Aus govt under fire following reports on uranium sale to India

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Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Feb 10 (PTI) Australian government today cameunder criticism for its "double game" in the wake of reportsthat secret US cables passed to WikiLeaks have revealed thatCanberra could sell uranium to India within years despite theruling Labor''s policy of not supplying it to non-NPT States.

The disclosure has prompted the Greens party to seekanswers from the Labor to explain if it secretly supporteduranium sale to India.

According to the ''Sydney Morning Herald'', US cablespassed to WikiLeaks revealed that Resources Minister MartinFerguson told US officials in 2009 that a deal to supply Indiawith nuclear fuel could be reached within years, a posturingthat contradicts the present stand of banning it against Indiafor not signing Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Greens nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlum said it appearedthe government was playing a "double game".

"I swear some days you can smell the uranium on MartinFerguson''s breath," he was quoted as saying by local media.

The Greens were now demanding that the government make astatement of clarification to Parliament.

Labor Senator Doug Cameron said Australia should notentertain the idea of trading uranium with India until it metinternational obligations.

The opposition Liberal party, which supports uranium saleto India, said it was encouraged by signs that the governmentappeared more flexible on the issue.

"It finally seems that the Labor party is showing somecommon sense on this issue," the opposition''s resourcesspokesman Ian Macfarlane said, adding that it made no sensenot to sell uranium to India.

India has been lobbying the Australian Government tooverturn its ban on uranium sales. The issue had also figuredduring External Affairs Minister S M Krishna''s recent visithere.

Australia controls the world''s largest known resourcesof uranium and is the third largest producer of the yellowcake after Kazakhstan and Canada.

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