'Oz and India committed to nuclear non-proliferation'

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{image-india and Australia_12092008.jpg www.oneindia.com}New Delhi, Sep 12: Australia and India remain committed to addressing the critical challenge of nuclear non- proliferation and disarmament visiting Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said on Thursday, Sep 11.

Smith, who is on a five-day visit to India, met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh here on Thursday, Sep 11 and is scheduled to meet and discuss bilateral relations with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday, Sep 12. "Australia and India remain committed to addressing the critical challenge of nuclear non- proliferation and disarmament about which each of our two Prime Ministers have spoken publicly. We share an ultimate objective of nuclear disarmament and both nations have very good records on non-proliferation. Nuclear weapons do pose a threat to humanity and the challenge of nuclear proliferation can only be addressed through effective multilateral action. That's why Australia has established an international ommission on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament," Smith said.

Smith also said that Canberra would back India's efforts to become a member of the UN Security Council. "It is Australia's firm view that India also a committed champion of multilateralism be given a permanent seat on a reformed United Nations Security Council so that world body reflects modern international geo-political reality," he said.

Australia backed India both at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) when New Delhi signed its frameworks agreement on August 1 and later at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) special session in Vienna from September 4 to 6 when the 45-member cartel granted India-specific waiver, lifting a 34-year-old ban on nuclear trade with international community.

However, Smith had said on Tuesday that despite the NSG waiver, Australia would not sell uranium to India since New Delhi is not pledged to NPT.

"The Australian Government's policy is not to supply uranium to non-NPT countries. That policy approach is of long standing and well-known," Smith said.

"Our policy has also been, and remains, not to supply other items to non-NPT signatories for use in nuclear programmes. This position remains unaffected by the NSG decision," he added.

But he hinted that there may be cooperation between the two sides on dual-use technologies. "This also does not disturb Australia's ongoing approach to consider, on a case-by-case basis, applications for the export of dual-use items," he said.

Australia has 40 percent of the world's known uranium reserves, but has consistently rejected India's pleas to be allowed to buy the nuclear fuel from Australia for its growing energy needs.

ANI

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