With an intent to take their civil nuclear cooperation forward, India and Kazakhstan are expected to sign an inter-governmental framework agreement in the field when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertakes a visit to the Central Asian country on April 15.
The nuclear agreement will be among at least six pacts that the two countries are expected to sign during the two-day visit as part of an endeavour to firm up a strategic partnership.
Singh, whose trip will be the first prime ministerial visit to the country in eight years, will be discussing with President Nursultan Nazarbaev a host of bilateral issues, with particular focus on energy and trade.
The two sides are expected to sign an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, sources said.
India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 when Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm signed a MoU during the visit of Nazarbaev here.
Under the contract, KazAtomProm supplies uranium which is used by Indian reactors.
The inter-governmental agreement will broad-base the cooperation and is expected to cover aspects like research and exploration of uranium, the sources said.
Kazakhstan is known to have one of the richest reserves of uranium while India needs to import it as the country is deficit in the mineral.
However, while discussing the future cooperation in the nuclear field, the two sides are expected to keep in mind the recent radiation scare in Japan after tsunami struck there and learn lessons from it.
During the visit, a pact will also be signed between state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Kazakhstan’s national oil firm KazMunaiGaz JSC for exploration and production of oil from Satpayev block in the Caspian Sea.
The OVL is expected to acquire around 25 per cent stake in the block which is spread over 1,582 sq km and is believed to have 1.75 billion barrels of oil reserves.
OVL is expected to invest to the tune of $400 million in the block.
An agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is also expected to be signed between the two sides.
Singh and Nazarbaev are also expected to discuss ways to enhance bilateral trade and a target could be fixed. Bilateral trade in 2010 was around $313.8 million, after an increase of around 23.8% over $253.4 million in 2009.
The two countries are also likely to firm up some exchange mechanism in the field of cinema.