Oz govt. must agree to sell uranium to India for civilian use: Ex-diplomat to India

Melbourne, Jan 21(ANI): Australia's policy of forbidding uranium sales to India is a thorn in one of the country's crucial 21st century bilateral relationships, a former Australian diplomat to India has said.

"Diplomacy, strategy, economics, climate change and notions of international fairness - all these imperatives support a rethink. It is time the Gillard government mustered the political courage to agree to sell uranium to India for civilian use," Rory Medcalf wrote in an article for the Age.

"Any exports would be subject to the same protocols and safeguards we apply to others such as China and Russia. If India then did not accept reasonable conditions, the deal would be off and it would no longer be Australia's problem."But Canberra's refusal even to negotiate defies the fact that Australia and India are natural partners: multicultural democracies facing shared challenges and hopes in the Asian century," he added.

Medcalf, who is a program director at the Lowy Institute and senior research fellow in Indian strategic affairs at the University of New South Wales, also emphasized that India's rapid economic growth and wealth of human capital complement Australia's resources and proximity.

"A proper partnership would serve both nations' security interests. It could include defence exercises, exchanges of actionable intelligence, and creative co-operation involving third parties, such as working with Indonesia or the US on maritime security," Medcalf said.

"We are neighbours in the Indian Ocean. We face common security concerns, from terrorism to the potentially destabilising impact of China's rise," he added.

Medcalf's comments come after Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who met Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Melbourne on Thursday, said that sale of uranium to India would further strengthen and expand the strategic partnership between the two countries.

"Our relations have been expanding rapidly in recent years in virtually all areas. Both countries are focused on expanding cooperation in areas such as trade and economic cooperation, energy and resources, education, science and technology," Krishna had said.

"While the relationship is progressing well, I think it is important to realize that the strategic partnership will not reach its full potential without some progress being made in the area of nuclear energy. I would be interested in hearing from you, at some point today, on how you see the issue evolving in Australia over the next few months," he added.

Krishna also said that a switch to nuclear power is needed to lower carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

"Climate change demands we aim at clean energy. It has been accepted by experts that nuclear power is the cleanest power, and India is committed to pursue its nuclear power expansion," the External Affairs Minister had said. (ANI)

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