A nuclear power plant
India is negotiating with US Export-Import Bank for an $8-9 billion loan to finance six Westinghouse Electric nuclear reactors [Representational Image]en.wikipedia.org

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday, 30 December, approved India's Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with Australia that allows the southern hemisphere country to supply India with uranium to be used as fuel in nuclear reactors.

India and Australia began negotiations on this deal after Australia in 2012 lifted sanctions on India it had imposed because India was not part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That decision by Australia, which is the third largest producer of uranium, under then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, had followed a deal between New Delhi and Washington that would see the US supporting India's civil nuclear programme.

The Indo-Australian deal, though signed in 2014 by Tony Abbott, was finally greenlit for implementation by his successor Malcolm Turnbull in November 2015.

The Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with Australia was brought into force on 13 November, 2015," along with the administrative arrangement for implementing the agreement, said an official statement from the government.

The fuel supply arrangement with Australia will bolster energy security by supporting the expansion of nuclear power in India, it added.

Interestingly, Australia is not the only country from where India will be getting uranium.

Following the signing of a contract for long-term supply of uranium during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Canada in April 2015, the first consignment of uranium reached India in December 2015, said the official statement from the government, adding that another long-term contract for purchase of uranium was signed during Modi's visit to Kazakhstan in July 2015.

India is also looking forward to a collaboration between Larsen & Toubro and France-based Areva to increase localisation of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, a step that is aimed to reduce costs.

The country has also signed a deal with Russia, as a result of which the two countries will build at least 12 nuclear reactors in a collaborative effort.

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