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WINDHOEK (NAMIBIA),B. MURALIDHAR REDDY: Feeling fettered by a regional pact which prohibits Namibia from selling uranium to India, President Hage Geingob regretted the world order that allowed a handful of powerful countries to dictate terms on nuclear technology.
At the state banquet hosted on Thursday night in honour of President Pranab Mukherjee, Mr. Geingob surprised his guests by recalling his conversation with an Indian diplomat on how the writ of a small group of countries on nuclear technology amounted to “nuclear apartheid.”
2009 pact with India
Namibia, the world’s fourth largest uranium producer, signed an agreement with India in 2009 for uranium supply. However, as a member of the African Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (ANWFZT), it is barred from trading in uranium with India, which is not a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, aka the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The ANWFZT also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba (named after South Africa’s main Nuclear Research Centre, run by The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation and was the location where South Africa’s atomic bombs of the 1970s were developed, constructed and subsequently stored), establishes a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa.
The Namibian President lauded what he termed India’s commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. “We will look into legal ways for our uranium to be used by India,” he said.
His country had resources but could not use them as it did not possess any nuclear weapon.
At the delegation-level talks, uranium sale to India was among the main topics of discussion.
Namibia asked New Delhi to come up with similar agreements with other countries to help it convince the ANWFZT members. So far, India has signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with 12 countries, including the United States, Russia, Korea and Japan.
It was agreed that India would soon send a team of experts to explain the details of civil nuclear cooperation deals with other countries.
Omu Kakujaha-Matundu, a local economist, said India also had the option of investing in uranium mining in Namibia.
“Generally what we have seen is that the uranium prices have dropped dramatically over the last five years. The leader of such a large economy coming to your country could only be good for your economy. It can also improve the prices of uranium if there is a demand from India,” he said.
The need for reforms to the United Nations was the other major theme of the speeches of the Namibian President and Mr. Mukherjee. Both wanted to know how a country with 1.2 billion people and a continent with one billion people could go without representation on the U.N. Security Council. “How can it be democratic,” Mr. Geingob asked.