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India, Australia ink long-awaited nuclear energy deal

Abbott finalized the deal to allow the export of uranium to India, offering to ramp up supplies of energy to help the emerging Asian giant overcome chronic shortages.

India and Australia sealed the long-awaited nuclear energy deal on Friday after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

Abbott finalized the deal to allow the export of uranium to India, offering to ramp up supplies of energy to help the emerging Asian giant overcome chronic shortages.

Abbott, who arrived here this morning, was given a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Besides meeting Modi, Abbott was scheduled to call on President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari.

The efforts to sign civil nuclear deal have been underway since 2012 after Labour Party in Australia reversed its decision to ban the sale of uranium to India because of New Delhi not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“I am hoping to sign a nuclear co-operation agreement that will enable uranium sales by Australia to India,” Abbott had told his Parliament on the eve of his visit to India. He had said that if Australia was prepared to sell uranium to Russia then “surely we ought to be prepared to provide uranium to India under suitable safeguards”, noting it was a “fully functioning democracy with the rule of law”.

India is not a signatory to the NPT, but Abbott has stressed that Australia would ensure adequate bilateral safeguards before any deal was signed.

After the failure to conclude a civil nuclear deal with Japan during Modi’s visit to that country, the pact with Australia – which has about a third of the world’s recoverable uranium resources and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of it a year – would boost India’s energy sector.

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