India won't be able to circumvent NPT, says Oz PM

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Melbourne, June 9 : Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today announced his plan to establish an international commission on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and said that India would not be able to circumvent the NPT by joining the commission that will be a non-government body.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans will co-chair the international commission, Rudd announced after an emotional visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima this morning.

Rudd denied that the plan was a way to allow Australia to sell uranium to India, which is not a signatory to the NPT.

The Howard Government agreed to the sales but the Rudd Government reversed the decision when it was elected last year.

Rudd said he understood the Indian arguments, and said the US Administration had also put India's case to him, but his Labour Government was firmly behind the NPT.

The commission will examine the work of two similar earlier panels, the Australian-led Canberra Commission and Japan's Tokyo Forum, to develop a plan of action for the next nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in 2010.

Its first task will be to report to a major international conference of experts in Australia late next year.

Rudd will discuss the question of who should co-chair the commission alongside Evans with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in Tokyo on Thursday, The Age reported.

Rudd said the NPT was under great pressure with some countries developing nuclear weapons outside its framework and others like North Korea defying the international community and leaving the treaty altogether.

"There are two courses of action available to the community of nations - to allow the NPT to continue to fragment, or to exert every global effort to restore and defend the treaty," he said.

ANI

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