Australia may lift ban on exporting uranium to India: report

Australia may lift ban on exporting uranium to India: report

Melbourne: In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties, Australian government could review and lift the long standing ban on uranium export to India later this year, a media report said Wednesday.

“Later this year, the (Julia) Gillard Government is likely to take two very big decisions affecting relations with the US and India. It will provide much greater access for US military forces to northern Australia. This could ultimately lead to US ships being based in Australia.

“And it will likely lift the ban on selling Australian uranium to India. Both decisions should be seen against the backdrop of China," The Australian said.

Expert on foreign affairs Greg Sheridan in the article said: “I now believe senior ministers within the Gillard government will make a serious attempt to change this policy at Labor Party’s national conference in December."

A resolution could take one of two forms — it could simply allow an exception for India, with appropriate safeguards or allow federal cabinet the authority to make an exception where it wants to, provided various safeguards were met.

“Earlier this year, Indian foreign minister S M Krishna met the Australian authorities including resources minister Martin Ferguson where the uranium talks were raised."

Australia had maintained its stand on not selling uranium to India as it has a policy of exporting the radioactive element only to the signatories of NPT.

The report cited that all big nuclear nations were now offering nuclear trade with India and the US had signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India and secured support for this from Nuclear suppliers group.

“This is not an issue about the security of uranium supply for India. Rather, it is a determination to make the leap to real strategic partnership with India.

“New Delhi is too proud to make a public fuss about Australia’s uranium policy, and the hypocrisy of our selling uranium to China while we refuse to do so for India. But the Australian position is a huge road block to a real strategic partnership," the report said.

The expert said that it was of first order importance for Canberra as commercially India was Australia’s next China.

“Indian investment is already making a big difference in our resources sector," the report out.

It further commented that even more importantly the US-India-Indonesia-Australia relationship was essential to Canberra’s ability to manage successfully the growing power of China.

“The only way we can become of genuine strategic consequence to India is through fulfilling a historic role of providing energy security, and in particular uranium. Such a policy reform would mean a big fight for the Gillard government with the Greens and with the far Left of its own party," the report added.