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OTTAWA — Canada’s biggest uranium producer is in advanced talks with India on a deal to supply the country of 1.2 billion with fuel for nuclear power plants as Ottawa prepares to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi next week, sources say.
Mr. Modi has made it clear that obtaining a commercial supply of uranium from Canada’s Cameco Corp. is a major goal for him as he gets ready to visit Canada on April 14-16.
“We look forward to resuming our civil nuclear energy cooperation with Canada, especially for sourcing uranium fuel for our nuclear power plants,” the Indian leader posted on his Facebook page late last week.
Nuclear power is at the heart of a rapprochement between India and Canada in recent years. Canada banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
The two countries turned the page with a deal that took effect in 2013. The highly symbolic Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement demonstrates that Canada no longer considers India a pariah for what it did in the 1970s.
A commercial deal to export Cameco’s uranium to feed India’s reactors would be another sign to the world that India is recognized as a safe, responsible nuclear power despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The question that remains is whether a uranium supply agreement can be finalized by the time Mr. Modi arrives next Tuesday.
“There is a fairly late-stage negotiation on and I think it’s likely to conclude successfully. I just don’t know whether it’s going to conclude by next week,” a source familiar with the Canada-India uranium supply talks said.
“If it doesn’t, then Ottawa and New Delhi will reiterate their commitment to Canada-India nuclear co-operation and say, ‘Cameco is in the middle of negotiations and we expect an announcement in due course,’” the source said.
Stewart Beck, who was Canada’s high commissioner to India between 2010 and 2014, said energy security ranks high for India.
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