Bloomberg News

India and Australia Agree to Start Talks on Nuclear Trade Deal

October 17, 2012

India and Australia agreed to begin civil nuclear trade talks for the first time, opening a new chapter of cooperation between the two nations.

The countries didn’t set a time to start the negotiations, which may lead to Australia selling uranium to the world’s second-most populous nation to meet its growing energy needs. The announcement was made at the end of a three-day visit by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“I have expressed to Prime Minister Gillard India’s appreciation of this development,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a press conference in New Delhi today. “This is a recognition of India’s energy needs as well as our records and credentials.”

Australia, the world’s third-biggest uranium supplier, previously banned sales to India because it isn’t a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The South Asian nation signed civil nuclear agreements with countries including the U.S., France and Russia after a three-decade ban on trade with India was lifted in September 2008 by the 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, which is charged with reducing proliferation by controlling the transfer of materials.

At the end of last year, Australia’s governing Labor Party overturned a ban on uranium exports to India.

Earlier in the day, Gillard said that the failure to begin nuclear trade with India had been a “source of tensions” between the two nations. “It was an idea whose time had come,” Gillard told a group of business leaders.

India’s government plans to spend about $175 billion over the next two decades as it seeks to curb power shortfalls crippling the economy. Power cuts are hurting industrial production amid an average 9 percent shortfall in peak power demand, according to the Central Electricity Authority.

To contact the reporters on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net; Andrew MacAskill in New Delhi at amacaskill@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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