* Agreement paves way for end of Canadian ban
* However, legal review, translation, signing still required
* Uranium producer Cameco heartened by big market opening up
* SNC Lavalin sees India designating site for Candu reactors
By Randall Palmer
NEW DELHI, Nov 6 Canadian firms will be able to
export uranium and nuclear reactors to India for the first time
in almost four decades under an agreement between the two
nations, their prime ministers said, but more work is needed to
implement the deal.
Once implemented, the agreement will end a ban on nuclear
cooperation Canada imposed in 1976 after India secretly exploded
its first nuclear bomb in 1974, commonly called the "Smiling
Buddha", using material from a Canadian-built reactor in India.
"Being able to resolve these issues and move forward is, we
believe, a really important economic opportunity for an
important Canadian industry, part of the energy industry, that
should pay dividends in terms of jobs and growth for Canadians
down the road," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on
Tuesday on a visit to New Delhi.
A negotiator with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(CNSC), speaking on condition of anonymity because of the
delicacy of the talks, said that what remained was a careful
legal review of the language; translation into French and Hindi;
and then a signing.
This is not expected to take very long, he said. The two
sides have set up a joint committee to liaise on nuclear issues,
but he said it would not be negotiating.
India aims to lift its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW in the
next 20 years by adding nearly 30 reactors. The country
currently operates 20 mostly small reactors at six sites with a
capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2 percent of its total power capacity,
according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.
Canada's ambassador to India, Stewart Beck, said on Monday
his country wanted to be able to track all nuclear material, but
that India felt it only needed to report to the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
It was not clear who made concessions in the talks and how
effective the safeguards would be to ensure that Canadian
material did not get used again for making nuclear weapons.
However, the CNSC official said India would now be required
to notify Canada of any transfers to a third country and trade
could only go to facilities that are safeguarded by the IAEA.
PROBABLY BEATING AUSTRALIA
Harper said the CNSC had worked to "achieve all of our
objectives in terms of non-proliferation".
Canada is in a race against Australia, its strategic ally
but a commercial rival in the uranium business. Australia is
also trying to nail down safeguards under which it too could
sell uranium to India.
"We are effectively ahead of the Australians," the CNSC
official said, noting however that Russia and Kazakhstan were
already supplying into India.
Opening up the Indian market would be a big help to Canada's
Cameco Corp, which is the world's largest publicly
traded uranium producer but which recently cut its long-term
output targets due to the Fukushima disaster.
"Anytime we can reduce the roadblocks to selling our product
around the world is always helpful," Cameco chief executive Tim
Gitzel told Reuters in Canada. "It opens a new market for us
with the appropriate safeguards in place. So this is good news."
Another potential beneficiary is Canadian engineering firm
SNC Lavalin Group Inc, which bought the government's
commercial nuclear division, which designed the Candu reactor
that is in use in numerous countries.
"As far as the sales of reactors goes, we would normally now
request that Canada be accorded the same treatment as the
Russians, the French and the Americans and that a site be
designated in India for the implementation of at least a twin-
unit Candu nuclear power station," SNC Lavalin International
President Ronald Denom, part of Harper's delegation in India,
He also said it should open up the market to service the
existing reactors in India.
Harper also said Canada welcomed foreign investment, after
the country temporarily blocked Malaysian state oil firm
Petronas' C$5.17 billion ($5.19 billion) bid for gas producer
Progress Energy Resources on Oct. 20.
Late on Friday, Canada extended to Dec. 10 its review of a
$15.1 billion bid made in July by China's CNOOC Ltd
for Canadian energy producer Nexen Inc.
"Those decisions have to be taken looking at the global
evolving economy in which we operate," Harper said.