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Australia close to sell uranium to India: Report

Written by: Staff

Melbourne, May 11: Australia would not force India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a precondition of signing the uranium deal with the country, Australian media reports said.

A seven-member high-level Australian delegation visited India last week, to discuss various possibilities of signing a uranium agreement with New Delhi.

The delegation was led by Mr David Ritchie, deputy secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and held a meeting with, foreign secretary, Shyam Saran.

''There are no current intentions to change Australia's long-standing policy of only selling uranium to countries that are party to the nuclear NPT and with which we have a bilateral safeguards agreement,'' the DFAT spokeswoman has been quoted by The Australian paper as saying.

It is believed the Australian team discussed the ways to lift the ban on uranium sale to countries which have not signed the Nuclear NPT.

Australia may like to, according to The Australian newspaper, inspect India's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a significant turnaround, Australia asked India to provide similar guarantees as given by China to get Australian uranium.

Recently, Australia had signed an agreement to sell the crucial fuel for nuclear plants with China. There was not much hesitation to sign the uranium agreement with one of Australia's most important trading partners as China is a signatory to the NPT.

Australia is trying to follow a recent agreement between the United States and India to share nuclear power technology.


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