No Australian uranium for India

16 January 2008

Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith has reinstated the country’s ban on exporting uranium to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) non-signatories.

The announcement reverses the decision last year by the previous government to export uranium to NPT non-signatory India.

“It’s a longstanding commitment of the Australian Labor Party that we don’t authorise the export of uranium to countries who are not parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Smith told reporters 15 January following a meeting with Indian prime ministerial envoy Shyam Saran.

Smith said that, during the meeting held in Perth, the issue of the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement was raised by Saran – who, as foreign secretary, negotiated the deal with the USA. “In the course of Mr Saran outlining that to me,” Smith said, “I made the point that the Australian government came to the election, or went to the election with a strong policy commitment that we would not export uranium to nation states who are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So I underlined that again today to Mr Saran.”

In August 2007, the then prime minister John Howard announced that Australia would in principle sell uranium to India, provided safeguarding arrangements were in place. The move was opposed by the opposition Labor Party, which said it would reverse the decision if it won the general election later in the year.

The Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd ousted Howard’s Liberal-National coalition in the 24 November 2007 election, with pronuclear Howard losing his parliamentary seat in the process.

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