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3 Stages of India's thorium-based nuclear plans  

The first stage of India's grand plan is based around the country's fleet of PHWRs and state-of-the-art research facilities, which have proceeded steadily despite the country being isolated for more than 30 years from the international uranium community after it detonated a nuclear device in 1974.

But following a landmark agreement with the US in October 2008 on civil nuclear co-operation, India can now, in principle, import fuel and reactors, while building more of its own, indigenous PHWRs. These reactors burn uranium while irradiating thorium oxide to produce uranium-233.

Stage two, which seeks to plug India's energy deficit by 2050, involves using reprocessed plutonium to fuel "fast reactors" that breed further uranium-233 and plutonium from thorium and uranium.

In stage three, advanced heavy-water reactors will burn uranium-233 while converting India’s thorium reserves into further uranium in a sustainable "closed" cycle. All three stages are running parallel and each has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale.

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