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India eyes uranium from Africa

Likely to ask the nations to relax commitment to Pelindaba Treaty

June 09, 2016 01:30 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:05 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

On the sidelines of its campaign for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India is likely to ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty which controls supply of uranium from key mineral hubs of Africa to the rest of the world.

Senior diplomatic sources told The Hindu that President Pranab Mukherjee would begin the process by trying to convince Namibia next week, during his June 15-18 trip, to implement a bilateral treaty with India and supply uranium to Indian nuclear energy projects.

“India’s agreements with Namibia have not moved ahead. We will try to remind Namibia to ratify the agreement that was concluded for supplying uranium to India,” said a senior diplomatic source on Wednesday as the travel schedule of Mr. Mukherjee to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia was announced. The visit will begin on June 12.

The Pelindaba Treaty signed in 1996, also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely.

Two pacts with Namibia

India and Namibia signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy during the visit of President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba to India in 2009.

However, diplomats pointed out that Namibia’s membership of the Pelindaba Treaty has prevented it from ratifying the agreements. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium.

The visit by Mr. Mukherjee, diplomats said, will give India a chance to persuade Namibia to ratify the MoUs of 2009. A major focus of Mr. Mukherjee’s three-nation visit will be on energising India’s existing business ties with Ghana, Namibia and Cote d’Ivoire. Two major business delegations are likely to accompany Mr. Mukherjee on his three-nation tour.

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