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Australia’s uranium policy won’t hurt ties with India — Foreign Minister

By NNN-Bernama

Melbourne : Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is confident his government’s strict policy on uranium sales won’t harm efforts to bolster Australia’s relationship with India.

The Australian government has signalled that stronger ties with the Asian economic powerhouse will be one of its top foreign policy priorities but despite this, it has made clear to India it has no intention of changing the policy of only selling uranium to countries which are party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), the Australian Associated Press news agency reports.

During talks last week with Indian special envoy Shyam Saran, Smith reiterated Australia’s long-standing policy of not allowing uranium sales to countries which do not sign the NPT.
The minister isn’t concerned the setback for India may disrupt attempts to strengthen bilateral relations.

“India is aware of the government’s policy to supply uranium only to countries which are members of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” Smith told AAP. “Australia’s relationship with India and further progress in that relationship does not depend on uranium sales.”

India, with its growing middle class, is still in the process of seeking domestic and international approval for an historic nuclear deal agreed with the United States which will give New Delhi access to US uranium and nuclear technology in exchange for opening its civilian nuclear reactors to international inspection.

The former Australian government of John Howard had agreed in principle to sell uranium to India, based upon the landmark India-US agreement and contingent upon the deal winning approval from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Australia, which has 40 per cent of the world’s Uranium yellowcake supplies, is a key member of the NSG.