Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 13:02 UK

India expands nuclear ambitions

India's Bhabha atomic research centre 30km from Mumbai
India's nuclear sector is set to expand in a big way

A major increase in nuclear power generation over the next 40 years will help India reduce its impact on global warming, Indian PM Manmohan Singh says.

Speaking in Delhi, he said the nuclear industry would have huge opportunities in India after the civilian nuclear deal signed last year with the US.

Mr Singh also regretted that the global non-proliferation regime had failed to prevent nuclear proliferation.

India has refused to sign the UN's Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

'Safer energy'

Mr Singh told the international atomic conference in Delhi that the civilian nuclear supply agreement with the US had opened up an era of safer and cleaner energy production.

He suggested that by 2050 nearly 500,000 MW of energy could come from Indian nuclear power stations.

"There will be huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate in the expansion of India's nuclear energy programme. This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change," he said.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Delhi says this is only a long-term vision.

Over the next decade the contribution of nuclear energy is expected to rise from just 3% to 6% of the country's total needs.

Coal still accounts for more than 50% of India's energy use - which is why Mr Singh urged India to think big about nuclear energy, our correspondent says.

India urgently needs a huge increase in power production, as hundreds of millions of its people are not even connected to the national grid.

The country is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and has been under pressure from developed countries to cap carbon emissions.

'Universal disarmament'

Mr Singh said India was proud of its non-proliferation record and was committed to global efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"Global non-proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament," he told the conference.

India recently resisted renewed efforts to persuade non-signatory states to sign the NPT.

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