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India, Kazakhstan to ink N-pact 
PM in Astana, will meet President Nursultan Nazarbayev today
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

Astana (Kazakhstan), April 15
The Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan is keen to buy small nuclear reactors from India and the two countries propose to carry out a feasibility study in this regard soon.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arriving here this evening on a two-day visit to Kazakhstan, the stage is set for inking of an inter-governmental framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation and some other key accords between the two countries tomorrow.

In interviews to the Kazakh media, the PM said nuclear energy was an important component of India’s energy mix in its national strategy to meet future energy challenges. “In the light of the tragedy in Japan, we have embarked on a comprehensive review of the security and safeguard procedures at our nuclear plants,” he said.

Manmohan Singh said India looked forward to its continuing cooperation with Kazakhstan in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. India was also keen to expand the economic relationship between the two countries in space, agriculture, information technology, health and pharmaceuticals.

India and Kazakhstan already have a civil nuclear cooperation MoU signed in January 2009 between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Kazakh nuclear company, KazAtomProm. Under the contract, the Kazakh firm supplies uranium to India to be used in Indian reactors.

The inter-governmental agreement will broad-base the cooperation and is expected to cover other aspects like research, technology transfer and exploration of uranium in Kazakhstan, the biggest Central Asian country with high reserves of nuclear fuel.

On the eve of the meeting between Manmohan Singh and President Nursultan Nazarbayev, sources said as of now no decision had been taken on selling nuclear plants to Kazakhstan. Negotiations had been going on for the past two years for the construction of small and medium nuclear plants. Apart from Kazakhstan, there were some other countries, which, too, had shown interest in buying reactors from India.

The sources said Kazakhstan was an important and reliable partner for India. It had helped India a lot when New Delhi’s case for nuclear waiver came up at the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) in September 2008. The Central Asian nation would also be soon taking over as the next chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), a grouping of Islamic nations, which has in the past been always passing unwarranted resolutions on Kashmir. New Delhi would obviously like Kazakhstan to ensure that such things don’t happen under its leadership.

Talking about relations with other Central Asian countries, the sources recalled that India had signed an ambitious agreement for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran (TAPI) gas pipeline. However, the TAPI project did not in any way mean that India was not keen on the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline. 








India will seek access to Rana
Tribune News Service

Astana (Kazakhstan), April 15
Tahawwur Hussain RanaIndia will seek access to Pakistani Canadian terror suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who has reportedly indicated the involvement of the Pakistan Government and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, according to sources.

“What is new in it (Rana’s confession) …we have been saying the same thing since January 2009,” sources said. They, however, indicated that it would not have any impact on the ongoing dialogue with Pakistan.

The sources justified Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s initiative to invite his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani for the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final in Mohali last month. “Not talking to Pakistan was not going to solve any problem. The two countries were holding talks at the secretary-levels on different issues,” they added.

Rana, locked in a Chicago jail, in court documents, has admitted to providing "material support" to the Mumbai attackers at the behest of Islamabad and the ISI and not at the bidding of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

However, his lawyers later denied his "knowing involvement" of the Pakistani Government and its spy agency in the terror attack.

Rana’s accomplice David Coleman Headley, an LeT operative who confessed to plotting the Mumbai attack, was interrogated by Indian investigators in June last year after the US granted access to him. 








Nuke facilities to have foolproof security

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Centre has decided to take all possible measures to ensure safety and security of existing and new nuclear facilities in India. According to sources, one of the four task forces constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh following the tragedy in Japan has suggested additional measures to make the Indian nuclear plants safe.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and the Department of Atomic Energy would look into the costs involved in further upgrading the nuclear facilities. “The government will do whatever is necessary for the safety of our plants,” sources said. The government was also reviewing criteria for selecting sites for setting up new nuclear facilities. There was no alternative to nuclear energy for meeting the country’s growing energy, they added. — TNS



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