A year after Canada changed its long-standing non-proliferation policy in order to help India join the international trade in nuclear supplies, the country’s plans to participate in India’s booming nuclear industry have slowed down due to meager economic ties between the two nations. Talks with New Delhi on a deal to allow Canadian companies to supply India’s nuclear industry are yet to begin.
The Conservative government hoped that Canada’s nuclear-policy shift, which immediately improved political ties with India, would bring deals for Canadian uranium and nuclear-engineering companies.
But the United States, France and Russia have been faster to sign nuclear agreements to allow their companies to sell to India.
In May, Trade Minister Stockwell Day said Canada was “very close” to a civil nuclear co-operation agreement with India. But several sources familiar with the discussions said that Canada and India are a considerable distance apart and have not yet cleared hurdles that would lead to the start of formal negotiations.
Day’s office has had deep differences with negotiators from the Foreign Affairs department’s non-proliferation branch. Day’s team and some other Conservatives feel the bureaucrats whose expertise is in nuclear safeguards want to impose excessive restrictions while companies from other countries are signing deals.
The obstacles include potential limits on Indian nuclear scientists moving between civil and military projects. Many work in both areas, but Canadian visa rules bar them from entering Canada on national safety grounds.
According to a government source, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has promised the Indian government he would issue exclusive permits to the scientists.