Aus Min asks govt to review policy on uranium sale to India

Posted By: Pti
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Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Feb 16 (PTI) Australian Federal ResourceMinister Martin has asked his Labor government to moderniseits policy and lift the ban on sale of uranium to India as itdeserves special consideration.

Ferguson said the party''s current uranium sales policyneeded ''some flexibility or some discretion should be built''when it comes to India.

According to Fairfax media, Ferguson said he will notask Labor to lift its ban on uranium exports to countriesoutside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but ratherrecognise that ''India deserves special consideration''.

"No one can suggest India is a rogue state. I thinkthis is something the Labor Party has to think about: thereshould be some flexibility or discretion built into thenational policy that enables Australia to handle the delicatesituation of India while at the same time forcing fullaccountability in the use of uranium in civilian powerplants," the Australian Minister said.

Last month, Ferguson met External Affairs Minister S MKrishna and reiterated his party''s stance on not selling theyellow metal to India.

The statement feeds expectations that the party willhold a contentious debate at its next national conferencelater this year to consider reversing Labor''s current uraniumsales policy.

"I accept [that our refusal to export uranium] is amajor concern in an otherwise close strategic relationshipbetween Australia and India.

"Any future uranium sales to India would be accompaniedby a bilateral safeguards agreement such as the one Australianegotiated with China in 2007, and Australia would wantinspections on the ground," he said.

His comments came after a media report disclosed thata US cable supplied to Wikileaks indicated a nuclear fuel dealwith India was being seen in the next three to five years.

His comments also came ahead of an expected move todayby Australian Workers'' Union (AWU) to pass a resolutionsupporting expansion of uranium mining and endorsing a debateabout nuclear power, the report said.

AWU national secretary Paul Howes has publiclysupported nuclear energy.

Former New South Wales Labor premier Bob Carr alsobelieves the party needs to debate the issue.

Ferguson''s emphatic support for uranium sales to Indiais deeply contentious in some quarters of the ALP, but hisposition is also supported in principle by senior members ofthe Gillard ministry on both sides of the factional divide,the report said.

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