Prince Harry to race to South Pole

Prince Harry announced Friday he will join a team of wounded British servicemen and women in a race to the South Pole.

Also competing in the 208-mile (335km) Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge in November and December are teams from Australia, America and Canada, AP reported.

The 28-year-old army captain told a press conference in London the event would raise money for retraining wounded soldiers.

He said it also aimed to demonstrate how to “meet a challenge head-on and overcome it and inspire others to do the same.”

Among the participants in the British team are Sgt Duncan Slater, 34, from Scotland, who lost both his legs in a blast in Afghanistan in 2009 and Major Kate Philp, 34, who lost her left leg in 2008, the BBC reported. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, these men and women have given their all in the cause of freedom, in our cause,” he told the media in London, Sky News reported.

“That they should once again step into the breach – this time facing down the extreme physical and mental challenges of trekking to the South Pole – just underlines their remarkable qualities.”

Prince Harry joked that his team would be first to reach the South Pole and would have a cup of tea brewing for the other three teams.


India inks nuclear commerce pact with Canada

NEW DELHI: Around 40 years after India used plutonium from a Canadian heavy water reactor to carry out its first nuclear test in defiance of world opinion, Ottawa is set to resume nuclear commerce with New Delhi.

Earlier this week, India and Canada vaulted the final hurdle in dismantling sanctions imposed after the Pokhran I test by signing an Appropriate Arrangement Agreement (AAA) that will allow Canada to ship uranium to India.

The agreement was signed between the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and India’s Department of Atomic Energy. Canada is home to the second most significant uranium mining industry in the world after Kazakhstan.

France and Russia have supplied some quantities of uranium, but Canada did not after the nuclear embargo imposed by the developed world on India. An agreement with Australia has been inked, but a safeguards framework is still being negotiated.

Nuclear cooperation with Canada has high symbolic significance for India as it marks a change, as PM Manmohan Singh himself earlier put it, in international realities. Ottawa had stopped all such cooperation after India used plutonium from the Canadian reactor to built its first atomic bomb.

Signed in 2010

India and Canada had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2010 that allowed them to initiate negotiations for supply of uranium, or the AAA. Canada’s insistence on having a stringent monitoring mechanism for use of its uranium by India led to a stalemate in the talks.

Canada, however, seems to have relented when PM Stephen Harper declared during his highly successful visit to India last November that both countries have concluded negotiations. The AAA still needed to be signed, though. Government sources here said Canada will use nuclear watchdog IAEA’s safeguards already in place to ensure its uranium is not used for advancing India’s nuclear weapon programme.

India had maintained all along during the negotiations that its safeguards agreement with IAEA – signed in February 2009 — was enough to take care of Canada’s concerns over non-proliferation and how New Delhi was going to use its uranium meant only for civilian facilities.

The US, which yanked India out of nuclear isolation, was the driving force behind the safeguards agreement – approved by the IAEA in August 2008 – that paved the way for a special waiver from Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowing New Delhi to indulge in nuclear commerce despite not having signed NPT.

The Indian government believes Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme that envisages 30,000 MW of nuclear power by 2030. India’s current nuclear power production stands at a paltry 5,000MW. According to experts just producing 200 MW of nuclear power can require over 30 tonnes of uranium.

Sourcing uranium

* To meet uranium shortfall India has signed civil nuclear cooperation deals with some of the most important uranium producing countries like Canada, Kazakhstan, Australia, Namibia and Mongolia.

* France and Russia are already supplying uranium to India, but with Australia it is having to negotiate a uranium safeguards agreement.

* India wants to increase nuclear power to over 20,000MW by 2020. This is four times the current production and involves an annual increase in uranium demand by 1,500 tonnes.

* India currently produces 450 metric tonnes of uranium and its reserves are modest: 61,000 tonnes of recoverable metal.

Canada conducts major military exercise ‘Operation Nunalivut 2013’ in the Arctic

Ottawa, April 3 (IANS) The Canadian armed forces have started a major military exercise in the Arctic to showcase its sovereignty in the region, the National Defense Department said.

Operation Nunalivut 2013 will be held from April 2 to 30 in the northwestern portion of the Arctic Archipelago, extending as far west as Mould Bay, Northwest Territories, and north to Isachsen, Nunavut, reported Xinhua.

The forces will face some of the most challenging terrain and weather conditions in the operation, which “will exercise Canadian sovereignty and demonstrate the Canadian Armed Forces’ abilities in the High Arctic during winter”, Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay said.

The Canadian Rangers, experts in living and operating in these areas, will conduct sovereignty patrols between Resolute Bay and Isachsen, Nunavut, as well as on Devon Island, more specifically in Griffon Inlet and Gascoyne Inlet in a bid to increase their collective knowledge and experience in the challenging environment.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will assist the exercise in the Arctic Archipelago by providing tactical airlifts and a platform for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The exercise, one of the major operations conducted every year in Canada’s north, will take place under the command of Joint Task Force (North) headquartered in Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

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