Namibia, the resource-rich African country, has agreed to supply uranium to India.

On Friday, Namibian President Hage Geingob assured visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee that Windhoek would look into “legal ways” to supply the nuclear fuel to the South Asian nation for peaceful use. Speaking at the State Banquet hosted in the honour of President Mukherjee, President Geingob said that his country commends India’s commitment towards peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The Namibian president told the audience that despite having resources, his country had no plan to possess nuclear weapons. “We have resources, but we cannot use it. We do not have nuclear weapons. But there are those who can use it. We will look into legal ways,” stressed Geingob.

President Mukherjee, who arrived in the Namibian capital on the final leg of his three-nation six-day Africa visit on Wednesday, held talks with his Namibian counterpart on Thursday. As expected, Mukherjee raised the issue of uranium supply during his talks with President Geingob. He urged the Namibian president to start exporting the nuclear fuel to India, saying that it would be difficult for the South Asian country to run its nuclear power plants without receiving help from the African nation.

Mukherjee also said it was unfortunate that New Delhi and Windhoek failed to implement the MoU signed in 2009. Seven years ago, Namibia had agreed to supply uranium to India on the basis of the MoU. However, the south-west African country did not keep its promise, as India refused to sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Namibia’s decision prompted India to sign agreements with other countries, like Kazakhstan and Australia. At the meeting, Mukherjee told his host that if India meets its requirements from non-Namibian sources, then it would be a loss for the Namibian industry.

Meanwhile, President Geingob reiterated Namibia’s commitment to honour the 2009 pact to supply uranium to India at the earliest, saying that New Delhi should sign similar agreements with other countries in order to convince the member-states of the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (ANWFZT). According to Geingob, the proposed move will make it easier for Windhoek to supply uranium to New Delhi. He explained that Namibia, as member of ANWFZT, is barred from supplying uranium to India as the latter is not a signatory to the NPT.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Indian president was received at the Hosea Kutako International Airport by Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia Nandi Ndaitwah Netumbo. Namibian Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Doreen Sioka, Chief of Protocol (Minister in Waiting) Neville Gertze and Indian High Commissioner to Windhoek Kumar Tuhin were also present at the airport.

On Thursday morning, President Mukherjee received a ceremonial welcome at the State House from President Geingob, Vice President Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo and other Namibian dignitaries. The ceremonial function was followed by a one-to-one meeting and delegation-level talks between the two sides, the signing of the visitor’s book and a signing of bilateral agreements.

Later, the president addressed the Namibian Parliament after being welcomed by the Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi and Chairperson of the National Council Margret Mensah Williams. Speaking at the Parliament, Mukherjee stressed on the historic bilateral relations, saying that it was India which inscribed on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in 1946 the problem of colonial oppression and racial discrimination in South Africa and Namibia. Later, Mukherjee visited the Independence Memorial Museum, where he was accompanied by Namibian Education, Arts and Culture Minister Katrina Hanse Himarwa and Museum Director Esther Mwoombola Goagoses.

Before leaving for New Delhi on Friday evening, President Mukherjee visited Heroes Acres to lay a wreath and the Namibia University of Science and Technology. He also held separate talks with Namibia’s Founding President Sam Nujoma and former President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]