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Strengthening Global Energy Security: India's Role in Kazakhstan's Nuclear Power Ambitions
Ajay Mohan
2023-09-15
Region : South Asia, India, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Science & Technology,
Issue : ,
India and Kazakhstan sign nuclear cooperation agreement
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In a recent development, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan has put forth the idea of conducting a national referendum to determine whether the nation should embark on the construction of a nuclear power plant. This decision carries immense significance as it holds the key to Kazakhstan's future energy landscape. It underscores Kazakhstan's pursuit of energy security in an increasingly uncertain global environment. It's worth noting that India enjoys a strong and cordial relationship with Kazakhstan, which could play a pivotal role in this context. India and Kazakhstan's inter-governmental agreement, signed in 2011, represents a significant milestone in their bilateral relations. It establishes a robust legal framework for comprehensive atomic energy cooperation, covering aspects like nuclear fuel supply, power plant construction, uranium exploration, and scientific research data exchange. Prime Minister Modi's visit to Kazakhstan in 2015 marked yet another significant milestone in bilateral relations. During this visit, both nations inked an agreement focusing on cooperation in the energy sector and the peaceful utilization of nuclear energy. These visits served as critical stepping stones that paved the way for future collaboration between India and Kazakhstan. India's involvement, with its extensive nuclear expertise, enhances the agreement's significance. This collaboration reflects the global trend of harnessing atomic energy for peaceful purposes and aligns with India's commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.
India’s Expertise in Peaceful Nuclear Programs: How it can help Kazakhstan
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India, with its substantial experience in managing a peaceful nuclear program, is well-positioned to assist Kazakhstan in developing a nuclear power plant. India’s expertise encompasses various facets:
1. Nuclear Energy Generation:
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India operates 22 nuclear reactors across seven power plants, producing an impressive 6780 MW of nuclear power. This capacity allows India to meet a substantial portion of its electricity needs through nuclear energy.
2. Nuclear Research and Development:
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Institutions like BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) have played a pivotal role in India’s nuclear research and development efforts. These endeavors have led to significant advancements in indigenous reactor development and fuel cycle technologies.

3. Nuclear Safety and Security:
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India places a strong emphasis on nuclear safety and security, underpinned by a comprehensive regulatory framework. The Atomic Energy Act of 1962, along with supplementary regulations, ensures the secure operation of nuclear facilities.

4. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Commitments:
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Despite not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India maintains a “no-first-use” nuclear policy and is committed to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

5. Nuclear Export:
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India’s global credibility is evident in its role as an exporter of nuclear technology, materials, and services for civilian purposes, conducted in adherence to international norms. India can play a pivotal role in assisting Kazakhstan’s ambitious endeavor to develop a nuclear power plant. India can offer its assistance in designing, constructing, and operating joint nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan, as envisaged in the Indo-Kazakhstan nuclear cooperation agreement. India can also share its experience and best practices in nuclear safety, security, and regulation with Kazakhstan, as well as provide training and capacity building for Kazakh nuclear personnel. India can collaborate with Kazakhstan in developing advanced nuclear technologies, such as fast breeder reactors, thorium-based reactors, and small modular reactors, which can enhance the efficiency and sustainability of nuclear energy. India can also partner with Kazakhstan in exploring and mining uranium resources in Kazakhstan, as well as supplying nuclear fuel and services to Kazakh nuclear power plants. India can support Kazakhstan in its efforts to join the global nuclear governance frameworks, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

How India can help Kazakhstan develop a nuclear power plant
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Kazakhstan has an ambitious plan to develop a nuclear power plant to meet its energy needs and diversify its energy sources. India, with its substantial experience and expertise in managing a peaceful nuclear program, can play a pivotal role in assisting Kazakhstan in this endeavor. India’s contributions can span various dimensions, such as:

1. Technical Expertise:
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India has extensive experience and technological prowess in designing, constructing, and operating nuclear power reactors, particularly pressurized water reactors (PWRs), which can benefit Kazakhstan’s nuclear endeavors. India’s collaboration on the Kudankulam nuclear power plant exemplifies its valuable insights and stringent standards in nuclear safety, security, and regulation, which can be shared with Kazakhstan. Capacity building and training programs for Kazakh nuclear personnel, along with India’s robust nuclear regulatory framework, further enhance its contributions. Collaboration on advanced nuclear technologies, such as fast breeder reactors, thorium-based reactors, and small modular reactors, underscores India’s leadership in the field.

2. Collaborative Partnerships:
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India and Kazakhstan can establish vital collaborative partnerships between their nuclear agencies and institutions. This collaboration facilitates knowledge sharing, joint research endeavors, and tailored training programs for Kazakh personnel based on Indian nuclear facility insights and skills.

3. Supply of Equipment and Materials:
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India can provide essential nuclear equipment, materials, and fuel for Kazakhstan’s nuclear power program various critical components, such as Steam Generators (SG), Turbines and Generators, Fuel Assemblies, Control and Instrumentation Systems (employed to manage diverse aspects of reactor operation, including temperature, pressure, and radiation levels), and Control Rods etc . And India would ensure a reliable source of necessary components for sustained nuclear facility operation.

4. Regulatory Framework:
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India’s support extends to helping Kazakhstan develop a robust regulatory framework for nuclear safety and security, including the establishment of regulatory bodies and compliance with international nuclear safety standards.

5. Financial Support:
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India can offer crucial financial backing through loans, grants, and investments for Kazakhstan’s nuclear power plant initiatives. Collaboration with international financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank ensures additional funding and expertise. Joint ventures and public-private partnerships, leveraging India’s experience, can aid Kazakhstan’s nuclear endeavors.

6. Global Nuclear Market Access:
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India can support Kazakhstan in accessing the global nuclear market by enhancing the efficiency and safety of its nuclear power plants through advanced technology, equipment, and services. Simultaneously, India can facilitate the export of uranium and nuclear materials, positioning Kazakhstan as a significant player in the international nuclear landscape.
7. Capacity Building:
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India’s contribution includes empowering Kazakh workers, scientists, and engineers through training and capacity-building programs, fostering a skilled workforce within Kazakhstan.

8. International Collaboration:

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India’s role extends to facilitating collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and advocating for Kazakhstan’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Collaboration with multilateral development banks, participation in international conferences, and technical assistance from nuclear supplier countries enhance Kazakhstan’s nuclear capabilities.

9. Diplomatic Support:
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In the realm of diplomatic engagement, India has successfully cultivated strong relationships not only with the United States but also with European nations that are at the forefront of nuclear technology advancements. This strategic positioning enables India to play a pivotal role in providing substantial assistance to Kazakhstan.
Author---Ajay Mohan is Director- Foreign Observer Research India (FORE INDIA), New Delhi.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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