India, Kazakhstan ink civil nuclear cooperation agreement

Astana (Kazakhstan): ementing their strategic partnership, India and Kazakhstan today signed an inter-governmental framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation and some other key pacts, including a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

The pacts were inked following talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev here.

The inter-governmental framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation signed between the two countries will broad-base the cooperation and is expected to cover aspects like research, technology transfer and exploration of uranium in Kazakhstan, which is known to have one of the richest reserves of the nuclear fuel that India needs in increasing quantity.

India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 when Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm signed an MoU during the visit of Nazarbaev to Delhi. Under the contract, KazAtomProm supplies uranium which is used by Indian reactors.

Ever since the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) ended India`s 34-year-old isolation in 2008 by giving a one-time waiver to have cooperation in civil nuclear field, it has signed such civil nuclear agreements with a number of countries including the US, France, Russia, Canada, Argentina and Mongolia.

As part of an endeavour to consolidate the strategic partnership put in place in 2009, a pact was also signed today between state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Kazakhstan`s national oil firm KazMunaiGaz JSC under which the Indian company will acquire 25 per cent stake in the Satpayev block in the Caspian Sea.

The pact will provide for exploration and production of oil from the Satpayev block which is spread over 1,582 sq km and is believed to have 1.75 billion barrels of reserves.

OVL is expected to invest to the tune of USD 400 million in the block.

The two countries also signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty during the Prime Minister`s visit.

Singh arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit as part of his two-nation tour that earlier took him to the Chinese city of Sanya, where he attended the summit of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping.