Scope of India, Kazakhstan contract for fresh uranium supply

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    Sep 22, 2012
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    Scope of India, Kazakhstan contract for fresh uranium supply will be bigger than before: Doulat Kuanyshev

    In an interview with Kazakhstan Ambassador to India, Doulat Kuanyshev says scope of India, Kazakhstan contract for fresh uranium supply will be bigger than before. Edited excerpts:

    Ambassador, India and Kazakhstan had signed civil nuclear agreement in 2009 for the supply of uranium to India. What is current status of the agreement?

    In an interview with Kazakhstan Ambassador to IndiaDoulat Kuanyshev says scope of India, Kazakhstan contract for fresh uranium supply will be bigger than before. Edited excerpts:

    Ambassador, India and Kazakhstan had signed civil nuclear agreement in 2009 for the supply of uranium to India. What is current status of the agreement?

    Since the civil nuclear pact was signed between the two countries in 2009 when Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was Chief Guest at India's Republic Day parade, Kazakhstan has supplied 3,500 tonnes of uranium to India. The scope of the new contract between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Kazatomprom (Kazakh Nuclear company) could be bigger than the previous contracts. We are committed to supply uranium to India a close partner and we will continue to do so to meet India's energy for peaceful needs. It was not just an extension but "there will be a new element in it". However, I am not at liberty to give more details at this stage.

    Kazakhstan has 12% of the world's uranium resources and an expanding mining sector, producing some 21,317 tonnes of uranium in 2012, and planning for further increase to 2018. In 2009 it became the world's leading uranium producer, with almost 28% of world production, then 33% in 2010, 36% in 2011 and 36.5% in 2012. It must be noted that Kazakhstan continued to negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the so called host country agreement on the establishment in Ust-Kamenogorsk of an IAEA-controlled bank of low enriched uranium fuel.

    PM Manmohan Singh's visit to Astana in April, 2011 provided the much needed impetus to bilateral relations. One of the most significant achievements of Dr. Singh's visit was the signing of the agreement for cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy. It provides a legal framework for cooperation in fuel supply, nuclear medicine, use of radiation technologies for health care including isotopes, reactor safety mechanism, exchange of scientific and research information, exploration and joint mining of uranium, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The agreement needs to be viewed in the context of India's growing energy demands. According to India's 12th Five Year Plan, nuclear power will play a major role in meeting the country's energy needs. The country needs an additional 1,00,000 MW of power during the 12th Plan (2012-17).

    Kazakshtan is an oil & gas rich country in Central Asia. But India has not so far gained from Kazakshtan's resources. How can Kazakhstan meet India's energy needs?

    India has been invited to be part of the Eurasia project to develop oil and gas assets in the north Caspian Sea. ONGC Videsh Limited is keen to participate in it. A consortium will be in place in next few months for the project. Indian side proposal to establish joint working group to study the possibility of constructing the pipeline Shymkent (southern part of Kazakhstan)-border of India has received positive resonation in Kazakhstan.

    Since 2010 an order book of Kazakhstan company KazStroyService (KSS) in India exceeded six hundred million USD. Another Kazakhstan JSC Azimut Energy Services signed the contract with Cairn India Ltd to work on implementation of seismic survey in Rajasthan. Kazakhstan and India were moving forward when India lost the stake of ConocoPhillip to India's ONGC Videsh in a Kazakh oil field, the envoy said. Both countries are now in search of real ways to improve economic interaction.

    How does India and Kazakhstan want to expand business and investment ties?

    One of the biggest handicaps to expand Kazakh-India bilateral trade is lack of direct connectivity. However, we are excited with the Iran's interim nuclear deal. This will enable smooth implementation of North-South International Corridor through Iran. India is a signatory to this project. This is a multi-modal multi-routes project. This railway line would enable Indian goods to come to Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries faster, as opposed to the present route via Russia or China. The railway line to Iran that will be connected to one of its port which then can be lined to India. Two countries are encouraging big B-to-B contacts.

    Bilateral trade between India and Kazakhstan increased from USD 120 million in 2005 to USD 210 million in 2006, an increase of about 75%. This showed a slight decline to USD 196 million in 2007. However, the two way commercial exchanges grew and remained steady at around USD 300 million over the last few years rising to around USD 500 million last year. This was announced by the Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov during his visit to New Delhi in March, 2013. The intervening economic crisis had kept the interaction subdued and significantly below par. Last few years have seen exports by Kazakhstan to India increase in a dynamic manner while those from India to Kazakhstan have struggled and slipped from their earlier levels

    Several Indian nationals and Indian companies have a significant presence in Kazakhstan.

    Arcelor-Mittal Temirtau is a major investment by a non-resident Indian, the headquarters of which are located in Luxembourg. Several other well-known companies like M/s Punj Lloyd Kazakhstan Limited, KEC International Limited, TCS etc. have been active in this market in the area of construction of oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission lines, IT etc. Large Indian Companies also need to bid for infrastructure and construction projects in Kazakhstan in the field of road and railway construction, electric power transmission and distribution, telecommunications, power generation etc.. Several new projects are being undertaken with the support and assistance of International financial Institutions like ADB, WB, EBRD and IDB. With their expertise and proven track record, Indian companies would have an excellent chance of being successful in some of these projects.

    What explains the close ties between India and Kazakhstan over the years?

    Both countries are multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-cultural societies committed to following secular policies and to countering fundamentalism, religious extremism and terrorism. Views of both countries coincide on all major domestic and international issues. President Nazarbayev chose India to be the first foreign country outside CIS to visit in February 1992 after Kazakhstan attained independence in December 1991. This visit was followed by the visit of Prime Minister of India Narasimha Rao in 1993. Vice President of India KR Narayanan visited Kazakhstan in September, 1996 and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to Kazakhstan in June, 2002 for the first CICA Summit as well as on a bilateral visit. More recently, Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari visited Kazakhstan in early April 2008. Fruitful discussions to provide greater economic and commercial content to the bilateral relationship were held with President Nazarbayev. Several areas including IT, space, agriculture, food processing etc. were identified for imparting a fillip to bilateral ties. Visit by President Nazarbayev as the Chief Guest on India's 60th Republic Day celebrations on 23-26 Jan, 2009 imparted a significant impulse to bilateral ties. Discussions were held on providing a big push to bilateral commercial and economic ties as well as in the area of energy cooperation.

    India has consistently and actively supported the CICA process initiated by President Nazarbayev in 1992. India has an Observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and is keen to enhance its contribution to the programmes and activities of this Organisation. India has applied for full Membership of SCO and there is considerable positive interest among Members of the Organisation to engage India more actively and substantively as a full Member of the Organisation. Interaction in UN and other international fora has been close and mutually supportive.

    What are Kazakhstan's future plans as Central Asia's largest republic?

    This year Kazakhstan marked the beginning of the implementation of the new Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy unveiled by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in December 2012. Its most succinct goal is to bring Kazakhstan into the world's 30 most developed countries by 2050. Competitiveness rankings currently peg Kazakhstan at around number 50.

    On December 16 Kazakhstan celebrated 22nd Independence Day. Preparations for EXPO 2017 continue to be a focus of Astana's agenda. Now that the design of the new EXPO City by American company Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture has been approved, the task is tohave the registration dossier approved by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) by the summer of 2014. In fact, next year will be critical for the launch of the construction of the EXPO's main facilities and for starting to secure commitments by foreign countries to participate in the three-month-long event in 2017.

    The year of 2013 also saw such notable steps as Kazakhstan's launching of its bid for a UN Security Council seat in 2017-18 and continuing to press its proposal to set up a UN regional diplomacy hub in Almaty. Astana also continued to promote President Nazarbayev's global nuclear disarmament initiative, The ATOM Project, which has already drawn the attention and support from people in more than 100 countries. And Almaty was put forward as a candidate city to host Winter Olympics in 2022.

    Scope of India, Kazakhstan contract for fresh uranium supply will be bigger than before: Doulat Kuanyshev - Economic Times
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