Armed with a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group India is now scouting for uranium from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Niger to fuel its atomic power plants which are running at half their installed capacity.
For reliable and long term supplies of uranium, India is also exploring the possibility of joint mining and exploration initiatives in Mongolia, Prime Minister's Special Envoy Shyam Saran said. "We will also be able to work out reliable, long term supply arrangements with countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Niger which have substantial supplies of uranium," he said at an interactive session organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The current global financial crisis may also throw up a buyer's market of the nuclear power plants, including a softening of the buoyant uranium prices, he said.
Terming the global financial crisis as a "blessing in disguise" for expansion of India's civil nuclear programme, Saran "this is an opportunity which should not be frittered away" as the window would close once the crisis abates.
"This (financial crisis) creates a favourable condition for India to embark on a truly ambitious nuclear programme getting the best terms and conditions, including technology transfer," Saran said.
Saran favoured an active role for the Indian private industry in the nuclear sector, which would "certainly enable a rapid expansion" of the area. The government would amend the Atomic Energy Act and put in place an elaborate regulatory and licensing system at an "appropriate time" to facilitate the entry of private players in the nuclear sector, Saran said.