Kazakhstan has said interaction with India in nuclear energy will open up prospects for implementation of other “breakthrough projects” in many of the priority sectors.
Kazakhstan, the largest and most dynamic economy among five Central Asian states, wants civil nuclear energy cooperation that will benefit both countries.
“Undoubtedly, our cooperation in this area will include the development and deepening of cooperation from Kazakhstan’s fuel supply to full-sized participation in joint projects, from training of personnel to the sharing of the best and environment-friendly technologies,” Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov told The Hindu in an interview.
This means instead of selling the uranium ore to India, Astana will like to value add by providing fuel rods as well as jointly taking up projects in this sector. India has already expressed its wish to be involved in Kazakh plans to set up small nuclear plants to provide electricity in its far-flung and thinly populated areas.
Kazakhstan is a major producer and exporter of uranium and has always signalled its interest in supplying its products to India. Its company Kazatomprom has already signed an MoU with NPCIL. The foundation was laid with the signing of an Inter-Governmental Agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This led to Kazakhstan assuring India of supply of 2,100 tonnes of uranium.
“We hope that our cooperation in the nuclear field will lead to intensive cooperation in the exchange of technology and creation of joint ventures,” reiterated Mr. Idrissov, who is fluent in Hindi. The two sides have already agreed to set up a Centre of Excellence in information and communication technology at Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana.
The Kazakh Minister, who will meet his Indian counterpart twice in the coming months after having had detailed discussions with him here this month, also referred to Kazakh interest in cooperation with the Indian pharmaceutical sector. “Given the high level of drug production and research capacity in this field, India could become an important partner in development of the domestic pharmaceutical industry,” he said.
Mr. Idrissov provided a detailed overview of communication links being planned with South Asia, which some strategic experts have derided as an Indian ploy to keep Iran and other Central Asian countries in good humour while New Delhi pursues energy and other opportunities with the West. Contrary to this assessment, Mr. Idrissov said his country was serious about being involved in the creation of multiple communication routes between Europe and Asia.
As it is known, Russia took the initiative in 2000 to establish an international transport corridor “North-South” and Kazakhstan joined it in 2003. Kazakhstan, said Mr. Idrissov, had direct rail access to the ports of the Persian Gulf (via Sarakhs and Mashhad), and the route running along the axis of Russia (St. Petersburg) - Kazakhstan (Aktau) - Iran (Anzali, Nowshahr, Amirabad) - Persian Gulf enables expanding the transit potential of rail and road, which cross the fast-growing Western Kazakhstan. In order to increase the capacity of the “Western Gate” of Kazakhstan, the Aktau port is being expanded.
“Further strengthening of the ‘North-South’ corridor will provide reliable transport links among the countries of Europe, Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia,” he said.