By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh
Apart from Prime Minister Stephen Harper shipping his armoured Cadillacs, what made headlines about Harper’s recent six-day visit to India was the nuclear deal between the two countries.
Canada had banned the trade of nuclear materials with India since 1976 due to India’s use of Canadian nuclear technology for a weapon test in 1974.
The nuclear deal finalized the implementation of the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) that was signed between the two countries in 2010. The Administrative Arrangement was also negotiated and concluded with the deal.
The NCA and Administrative Arrangement together will allow Canadian firms to export and import controlled nuclear materials, technology and equipments like uranium and nuclear reactors to and from India to facilities under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The agreement provides an international treaty level assurance that the nuclear technology coming from Canada will be used for only civil and peaceful purposes. The NCA also facilitates joint commercial ventures and research and development between the two nuclear industries.
The government of Canada strictly regulates the export of nuclear items to ensure that they are exported only to countries that meet Canada’s stringent non-proliferation and security requirements.
According to the Foreign Affairs and International trade Canada, Canada advocates three essential international legal instruments as a part of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime: A universal Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to prohibit the spread of nuclear weapons and materials; a fully in-force Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to prohibit all nuclear test explosions; and a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) to prohibit the production of materials that can be used to produce nuclear weapons.
“The conclusion of the Administrative Arrangement with India will facilitate opportunities for Canadian companies to play a greater role in meeting India’s growing energy needs. It is expected to generate millions of dollars in new business contracts between our countries and to create high-quality new jobs here at home,” Harper told media in New Delhi after finalizing the nuclear deal.
This time around the Canadian government insisted that it wants India to provide information that the nuclear materials provided by them are used for peaceful purposes and not for nuclear weapons. The Indian government insisted that reporting to the IAEA should be sufficient.
Under the administrative deal, an establishment of a ‘joint committee’ was approved after all negotiations. The joint committee will act as a gateway to share information.
Harper emphasized the importance of trade relations between India and Canada with a tinge of humour at the World Economic Forum held in the National Capital Region of India. “I believe there is kind of a parallel to Canada and India and a typical Bollywood plot. Two young people meet, they know that they are meant for each other but they have obstacles to overcome. They do in fact overcome the obstacles and the happy ending ensures, and they do so before the viewer loses interest. It’s a bit like how I see the relationship between Canada and India. We have had a very promising start. But we have to work hard to overcome the obstacles and we have to work quickly and in a determined manner if we are to get to the happy ending that we both want.”