India’s special envoy on the nuclear issue will hold talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard this week in an effort to convince Canberra to back its nuclear ambitions and allow Australian uranium sales.
Shyam Saran, the interlocutor for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, is expected in Canberra on 29 March to meet Howard, ministers and officials before a gathering of international nuclear suppliers in South Africa next month.
Saran is on a visit to Australia and New Zealand to try and assuage their concerns with regard to backing India’s nuclear aspirations.Saran will explain in detail the reasons for India’s aspirations for civil nuclear energy while pointing out its impeccable record in non-proliferation.
India needs endorsement from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for its proposed nuclear co-operation agreement with the United States.The deal has implications for Australia because it could allow uranium sales to India although it is not a signatory to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Australian daily The Age reported today.
It had been expected that the NSG meeting would examine the proposed agreement next month, but that timetable is now unclear. Indian reports suggest it could be considered “informally” but Australian sources believe the agreement may not be ready and may need to be considered at a special NSG meeting later in 2007. NSG members have expressed mixed views.
India has made it clear it wants Australia not only to back its position in the NSG, but also to shift its policy of not selling uranium to countries outside the treaty.Howard has already signalled Australia might shift its policy in the future.