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Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, leads Australia’s ruling party in clearing the way for uranium sales to India.
A bilateral agreement is likely to follow the Labor Party vote to overturn the ban on uranium sales to countries that aren’t part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Gillard argues that it’s irrational to sell the resource to China, but not India.
“Now, I do want to say to you, when we sell uranium, of course, we must ensure that there are strong safeguards. We are a peaceful people. We’ve always understood that uranium was a fuel of a different nature. We’ve always insisted that when we sell uranium that it comes with safeguards. Safeguards in the form of a stringent bilateral agreement between us and the nation that we sell uranium to.”
Education minister, Peter Garrett, whose former rock band sang anti-uranium songs in the 80s and 90s, opposed the move.
“Where is our vision here? Where is our commitment to a nuclear-free future? Where is our commitment for things like a nuclear weapons-free convention? And where is our insistence that those values that we’ve stood for in the past – and those measures that we’ve considered were absolutely crucial to disarm them – should be maintained. On that basis, delegates, we should oppose this motion.”
But proponents pushed the plan through with 206 votes to 185. A bilateral agreement represents both an economic and diplomatic opportunity for Australia, while India needs Australia’s substantial uranium reserves to meet its ambitious nuclear energy plan.
Bottom line: Australia’s ruling Labor Party endorses a plan to open uranium sales to India, despite some party members’ opposition.