Australia considers selling 'uranium' to India

Australia is considering selling uranium to India after New Delhi finalises a landmark nuclear deal with the United States, the government said.

 Australia considers selling 'uranium' to India
Australia is considering selling uranium to India after New Delhi finalises a landmark nuclear deal with the United States, the government said.

Australia has the world's largest known reserves of uranium and has been under pressure sell the nuclear fuel to India since it agreed last year to supply rival Asian giant China.

But Australia has a policy of refusing to export uranium to countries which have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and, while China is a signatory, India is not.

Both countries already have nuclear weapons and say they want Australia's uranium simply to fuel nuclear power stations to meet the soaring demand from their booming economies.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia would consider changing its policy and selling uranium to India if New Delhi agreed, in its deal with the United States, to inspections and UN safeguards consistent with the NPT.

"In these circumstances it is a possibility that we would begin negotiations with India over supplying uranium to power stations which were subject to United Nations inspections and to the regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency," he told reporters.

"It is still something that we are considering and we certainly will have to wait and see what the conclusion is of negotiations between India and America."

The agreement for the United States to provide nuclear technology and fuel to India was finalised in talks last week pending approval by government leaders, but it remains under wraps.

Downer said India had no record of exporting nuclear weapons technology to other countries, and that the export of uranium could help the country grow its burgeoning economy.

Prime Minister John Howard, a close ally of US President George W. Bush, is reported to be a strong supporter of the plan.

But the proposal brought immediate criticism from some opposition parties and environmental group Greenpeace.

"The decision to sell uranium to India breaks one of the only safeguards Australia and the world has to control what could easily become a global nuclear menace," said Greenpeace Pacific chief executive Steve Shallhorn.

AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Temmuz 2007, 15:39
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