PM Narendra Modi with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of 'Vibrant Gujarat', in Gandhinagar

New Delhi: India and Uzbekistan signed a deal for long-term supply of uranium from the resource rich Central Asian country to power its domestic atomic reactors.

The deal was signed on Friday during Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to the Vibrant Gujarat business summit in Gandhinagar, his second trip to India since October. After Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan will become the second Central Asian country to supply uranium to India.

The two sides have negotiated the uranium supply for years and it was only in 2017 that Mirziyoyev, who came to power in 2016, decided to concertise the deal.

Uzbekistan is the seventh largest exporter of uranium in the world, according to the World Nuclear Association, an international organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. India needs nuclear fuel as part of a plan to create a strategic uranium reserve that can sustain the country’s reactors for the next five years. In the past, India’s reactors have under performed due to a shortage of uranium arising out of sanctions imposed by the West after the 1974 Pokhran nuclear tests.

India currently imports uranium from Kazakhstan and Canada and plans to also purchase the fuel from Australia.

The uranium is used primarily to fuel its indigenously built pressurised heavy water reactors. India procures enriched uranium from Russia for its two boiling water reactors at Tarapur in Maharashtra.