India signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the UK, on Thursday, making it the eighth country to enter into such pact with New Delhi since the lifting of atomic trade embargo in 2008.
The agreement was signed by Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee and British High Commissioner Richard Stagg in New Delhi. "It is a general umbrella agreement on civil nuclear cooperation," a Department of Atomic Energy official said. The pact is expected to provide a legal framework for British companies to export components and products and be part of the supply chain for reactor design in India.
Britain and India had finalised the agreement earlier this month during Commerce Minister Anand Sharma's visit to London for the UK-India Joint Economic Trade Committee meet. UK Trade and Investment, the British government's trade arm, had said that British companies were keen to collaborate with Indian partners in civil nuclear technology.
According to the Nuclear Industry Association of the UK, 185 British companies in the island nation which include the nuclear plant operators, those engaged in decommissioning, waste management, nuclear liabilities management and all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle.
The British nuclear industry exports nuclear goods and equipment worth over 1.11 billion dollars and can supply 70-80 per cent parts of a new nuclear reactor. Since September 2008, when the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the embargo on India's participation in international nuclear commerce, India has signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with France, US, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Argentina and Namibia.
India has also finalised a civil nuclear cooperation deal with Canada, which is expected to be signed soon.