Australia moves to end ban on selling Uranium to India

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SYDNEY—Australia‘s governing party Sunday backed a push for the country to end its ban on selling uranium to India, in a move that could further the opening up of trade in fissile materials with the nuclear-armed power at a time of fast-rising energy demand.

India is expected to increase its use of nuclear power from three percent of electricity generation to 40 percent by 2050, and Australia’s uranium lobby believes it could be selling 2,500 tonnes a year to the Asian giant by 2030.


Bob Brown, leader of the Green Party told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “It’s going to be pretty horrifying for many Australians. It’s specious to think sending Australian uranium to India is not going to bolster its ability to put uranium into nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Brown is right, of course, but when it comes to India having a sizable nuclear arsenal, well, that ship sailed years ago.


[toggle_simple title=”Yellowcake Country? Australia’s uranium industry.” width=”600″]

As Australia increases it’s commitment to uranium mining Yellowcake Country is an important fact sheet about the current state of Uranium mining in Australia.

Produced the Beyond Nuclear Initiative, it seeks to explain the issues concerning uranium mining in Australia and clear outline of the perspectives of those opposing it.

Edited by Eve Vincent and designed by Lachlan Conn

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative is a collaboration between the Poola Foundation (Tom Kantor Fund), Friends of the Earth, and the Australian Conservation Foundation.


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The World Nuclear Association notes, “India has 20 reactors in operation, and four under construction (two expected to be completed in 2011). This includes two large Russian reactors and a large prototype fast breeder reactor as part of its strategy to develop a fuel cycle which can utilise thorium.

Twenty further units are planned. 17 further units are planned, and proposals for more – including western and Russian designs – are taking shape following the lifting of trade restrictions.”


Nuclear-Energy hungry India looks forward to Australian Uranium

India is expected to increase its use of nuclear power from the current three percent of electricity generation to 40 percent by 2050.

“Once Australia comes into the fold all properties will be reviewed,” said A.K. Sarangi, deputy general manager of strategic planning at the Uranium Corporation of India, the government agency responsible for mining andpurchases.

“Australian deposits will be a target along with assets in other countries,” he added to The Australian newspaper.

“If we decide we need to attain properties abroad and the Australian government agrees then Australian assets are also considerations.”

Federation of Indian Mineral Industries chief R.K. Sharma agreed.

“I think it would be very desirable to invest in Australian uranium assets because Australia is a very investor-friendly country,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Australian Uranium Mining

Parts of Australia’s desert interior were left uninhabitable by British atomic tests in the same period (1955-1963) and one delegate said local people were “dying of cancers to this day”.

Strong views were voiced against lifting the ban, with British-born Communications Minister Stephen Conroy choking up with emotion as he described how the 1957 Windscale nuclear fire in Cumbria had affected his family.

Windscale was Britain’s worst atomic accident, rated at five out of seven on the international scale, in which a blaze inside a reactor released substantial amounts of radioactive contaminants into the local area.


Australia Uranium Mining

The Indian government welcomed the decision but denied that the relationship with Australia would have suffered had the conference opted against the policy reversal.

“We’re happy with this development,” a senior source told The Australian. “We’re looking at scaling up the nuclear complement in our energy basket (from 2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2030) so obviously there will be a need for technology, equipment, power plants and for uranium.”


Although Australia does not use nuclear power, it is the world’s third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, exporting 9,600 tonnes of oxide concentrate each year worth more than Aus$1.1 billion ($1.1 billion).

It also has the world’s largest reserves of uranium, holding 23 percent of the total, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Australian Prime Minister Gillard said uranium sales would help to strengthen Australia’s relationship with India and help Australia take full advantage of the “Asian century”.  


Gillard argued that it was neither rational nor intellectually defensible to sell uranium to rising powers such as China and not to India, “the world’s largest democracy” and a fast-growing nation of increasing global clout.

“We can honour the treaty, we can change our platform, we can — under the most stringent of agreements — sell uranium to India if we so choose and, delegates, I believe that we should make that choice.”

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

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Protesters were ejected from the conference hall while the measure was being debated, and even members of Labor’s cabinet spoke against the shift.

Anti-nuclear campaigners said it was a “major blow to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime”.

“The Labor Party has put profits before the peace and security of the region,” said Tim Wright, Australian director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

In an emotion-charged debate, cabinet ministers Anthony Albanese (Transport), Stephen Conroy (Communications) and Peter Garrett (Education) yesterday spoke out against the Indian uranium sales motion moved by the Prime Minister.

And Left-faction convener Doug Cameron said he did not want Labor’s light on the hill to be a “green pulsating nuclear light”.

“Prime Minister, you are wrong,”Senator Cameron said. “This is the wrong thing to do.”

 “”Nine months after Fukushima we are being asked to sell more uranium for more nuclear reactors to a country that does not have nuclear safeguards, such is the case that nine months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster is not the time to be expanding our uranium exports,”Anthony Albanese, the country’s infrastructure minister, told the conference.

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A Roy Morgan poll in March found that 50% of the population oppose exporting uranium for nuclear power, with 44% supporting the practice.


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Prime Minister Julia Gillard supported the measure, which she has backed on the basis that it will create jobs in Australia and improve relations with the country expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous by 2030.

“We are at the right time in the history of the world to seize a new era of opportunity in this, the Asian century,” she said. “We need to make sure that across our regions we have the strongest possible relationships we can, including with the world’s largest democracy, India.”

“Let’s just face facts here — our refusal to sell uranium to India is not going to cause India to decide that it will no longer have nuclear weapons,” Gillard told the Labor summit.

“We can honour the treaty, we can change our platform, we can — under the most stringent of agreements — sell uranium to India if we so choose and, delegates, I believe that we should make that choice.”

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The decision is particularly controversial because India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1968 United Nations agreement that largely restricted nuclear-weapons technology to the countries then in possession of atomic bombs. Nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and Israel never signed the accord, and North Korea withdrew from it during the 2000s as it developed its own atomic program.

However, since an agreement on nuclear power cooperation with the U.S. in 2005, India’s nuclear relations have been increasingly normalized.

Source: Updated News

Source: WSJ

Source: theaustralian.com.au

Source: AP News

Source: Yomiuri Online

Source: Foreign Policy Blogs

Source: Dawn.com

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