Aus, India likely to ink uranium deal during Gillard's visit

Melbourne, Oct 8: Australia is close to finalise a uranium safeguards agreement with India that would allow it to sell the yellowcake to the Asian giant, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today.

His comments came ahead of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's maiden visit to India next week. "Yes we are, and the Indians are happy with the progress on this.

And we always - where there's a sale of Australian uranium, we always have a treaty that governs it and puts in place all the safeguards we'd require, IAEA and the rest, non-proliferation references," Carr said when asked to comment whether Canberra was close to ink a deal with New Delhi on the sale of uranium.

"The relationship's in good working order and the thing the Indians wanted out of us most was a decision to sell them uranium for the peaceful development of nuclear power which is a major strategic goal for them and I think an environmental plus for the planet," the minister told a local TV channel.

However, he refrained to comment if the deal was part of Gillard's visit due on Oct 15. "I'm not in a position to announce what the Prime Minister's going to announce. But the relationship is in quite good working order," he said, adding, "The Prime Minister's headed there, let's leave it to that."

Indian High Commissioner to Australia Biren Nanda also said, "I can confirm that a civil nuclear cooperation deal was on the agenda of cooperation between the two sides." Australia's known uranium resources are the world's largest - 31 per cent of the world total.

In 2011-12 Australia produced 7,700 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate. It is the world's third-ranking producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada, according to the World Nuclear Association. Carr further stressed that Canberra has been working hard to develop ties with India and that it has not been ignored by his government.


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