By Randall Palmer
NEW DELHI Nov 6 Canadian firms will soon be
able export uranium and nuclear reactors to India for the first
time in almost four decades following an agreement between the
two countries, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on
It will end a penalty Canada imposed in 1976 after India
secretly exploded its first nuclear bomb in 1974, commonly
called "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," Harper said during a visit to New Delhi.
He gave no timeline for implementation of the new deal. The
two countries signed a nuclear cooperation pact two years ago,
but until now had not agreed on the final details.
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.
It was not immediately clear what safeguards there would be
to ensure that Canadian material does get used again for making
nuclear bombs, an issue that had been a key obstacle to the
Canada's ambassador to India, Stewart Beck, said on Monday
that 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.
Harper said the Canadian nuclear safety commission had
worked to "achieve all of our objectives in terms of
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.
Opening up the huge Indian market would be a major benefit
to Canada's Cameco Corp, the world's largest publicly
traded uranium producer.
Another potential beneficiary is Canadian engineering firm
SNC Lavalin, which bought the government's commercial
nuclear division, which designed the Candu reactor that is in
use in numerous countries.
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. Reuters had
reported on Wednesday that an extension was