Perth: Australia’s new government told an Indian envoy on Tuesday that it will not sell uranium to his country while it is not a member of the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The comments uphold a policy that would scuttle the previous government’s plans to start negotiating a uranium trade with India to fuel the country’s skyrocketing demand for electricity.
Foreign minister Stephen Smith, appointed after the Labor Party ousted former prime minister John Howard’s government in November, held talks on Tuesday with Shyam Saran, a special envoy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
After the talks, Smith told reporters he had reiterated Labor’s policy on uranium sales. “We went into the election with a strong policy commitment we would not export uranium to nation-states who are not members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
While Australia’s turnabout is a setback for India, it will not cripple its programmes, according to analysts. “It is a problem, but it is not an irreversible one,” said K. Subrahmanyam, a former member of India’s National Security Council. “Australia has one of the largest reserves of uranium, but there are other nations, which also have it.“
Saran did not comment after the meeting, but Smith said Saran was not surprised by the position.