New Delhi to persuade Australian PM for uranium sale to India

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New Delhi, Nov.11 (ANI): Energy starved India, which is pressing hard to ensure sufficient nuclear fuel supply for its drying nuclear reactors, is likely to persuade the visiting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to open up the uranium sale to India.

" India is more than willing to buy Uranium from Australia and it will be a part of the agenda of the "broad-based" discussion with Kevin Rudd who will hold talks with his Indian counterpart and host of other leaders during his three-day India visit," said informed sources to ANI on Wednesday.

Empathizing with the domestic complications of the Rudd's Labour Party, which have strong reservations over supplying uranium to non-NPT signatories, sources said: "We (India) are ready when they (Australia) are ready to sell uranium." But "We don't press the point," source added.

Australia is one of the largest uranium producers of the world and its Olympic Dam mine (in south Australia) alone has the capacity to produce 35 per cent of the world's uranium. Its reserves could last for 100-150 years.

India derives consolation from the fact that Australia had supported India in getting clean waiver at the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) and also at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year.

However, in spite of exemptions and lifting of sanctions on India for doing nuclear trade, Canberra is sticking to " No Uranium Sale to India" on the ground that India is non-signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Australia is not only one of the largest reservoirs of uranium, it also possesses huge reserves of clean coal and natural gas, which India is eyeing on. Sources told ANI: "Our dependence on Australia for energy security is not just cantered around uranium sale."

Australia is the largest exporter of coal and the quality of coal is better than India, as it has less hash content which is good for environment.

Off late Australia and India have signed first long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deal with India, with India's Petronet LNG signing a 20-year agreement to take gas from the massive Gorgon project. According to the agreement Exxon Mobil will supply about 1.5 million tonnes per annum of its share of LNG from the proposed Gorgon LNG project over 20 years.

Other than energy security, both countries are also expected to increase cooperation in the field of Maritime Security, issue of security of Indian students down under will also be a part of the broad- based talks between India and Australia.

Discussion on possible Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries on which the feasibility study is already going on by the Joint Study Group will also come up during Australian Prime Minister's visit. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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