Australia's ruling Labor okays uranium sale to India

Julia Gillard
Melbourne, Dec 4: Australia's ruling Labor party today (Dec 4) backed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's bold move to overturn a longstanding ban on uranium sale to India, paving the way for removal of a major irritant in bilateral ties.

Delegates at the Australian Labor Party's (ALP's) national conference in Sydney favoured Gillard's decision to open up uranium sale to India despite the country being a non-signatory to the NPT after a passionate discussion on the issue, with 206 members voting in favour and 185 against.

With opponents of the move citing the Fukushima nuclear disaster that rocked Japan following a massive quake and tsunami in March, Gillard, while moving the motion in this regard, said approving the plan would boost trade and enhance Australia''s relationship with India.

"We are at the right time in the history of the world to seize a new era of opportunity in this, the Asian century," Gillard said. "We need to make sure that across our regions we have the strongest possible relationships we can, including with the world's largest democracy, India."

She said it was not rational that Australia sells uranium to China but not to India.

"We are not a political party that shirks hard decisions," Gillard said. "At this conference we should take a decision in the national interest."

She argued that Australia could sell uranium to India without breaching its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.

Gillard said any agreement to sell uranium to India would include strict safeguards to minimise proliferation risks. "Let''s just face facts here -- our refusal to sell uranium to India is not going to cause India to decide that it will no longer have nuclear weapons," she said.


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