Uzbekistan is seeking to deepen its strategic partnership with India, as it is planning to export more than 2,000 tonnes of uranium to power a growing number of nuclear plants in India, The Economic Times said.
Uzbekistan, the seventh biggest uranium exporter in the world, will be a key player in India’s plan to procure nuclear fuel to create a strategic uranium reserve. New Delhi is working to have a stockpile of nuclear fuel that can sustain the country's reactors for five years and ensure that they do not stop functioning in the absence of fuel.
In the past, India’s nuclear reactors had underperformed due to shortage of fuel. India is in talks with Uzbekistan to source uranium, a senior Indian government official indicated to ET. A delegation from this Central Asian country had visited India in August to discuss the issue in detail and work out the modalities of supply.
“It is in this meeting that the Uzbek President decided to elevate ties to the next level and indicated that sky is limit when it comes of Indo-Uzbek ties. In many ways, the Astana meeting was a watershed in bilateral ties and a new chapter has opened wherein Uzbekistan wants India to invest in a big way here and offering several incentives,” said a person familiar with the evolution of Indo-Uzbek ties. “The Uzbek President in many ways is similar to the Indian PM — decisive and a go-getter. Uranium is a strategic mineral and when a country decides to export it to a foreign partner, it signals confidence in each other.”
India has been desiring to import uranium from Uzbekistan in the past. But constraints of connectivity prevented Tashkent to transport the material to India. However, the Astana meeting between the two leaders influenced the Uzbek government to export uranium to India, a senior Indian government official said. Uzbekistan currently supplies the yellowcake to Russia, China and Japan. It is estimated that India could import more than 2,000 tonnes of uranium from Uzbekistan once an arrangement is firmly in place.