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Australia Will Not Supply Uranium Till India Signs Npt

Published by MAC on 2006-03-03
Source: The Hindu

Australia will not supply uranium till India signs NPT

by K. Venugopal, The Hindu

3rd March 2006

Canberra: Australia will not supply natural uranium to India as long as it does not sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Alexander Downer, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said in an interview here on Wednesday. He was responding to a question whether Australia saw a role for itself as a supplier of uranium to India in the event of the United States and India coming to an agreement that would help lift international sanctions on the Indian nuclear energy programme.

Speaking to a couple of visiting Indian journalists ahead of Prime Minister John Howard's trip to New Delhi next week, Mr. Downer recalled that the foundation of his country's policy on nuclear supplies was that it would export uranium only to countries that had signed the treaty. Since India had not signed the NPT, and was not going to do so soon, the export could not happen.

Nevertheless, the Australian Foreign Minister was appreciative of recent proposals emanating from India.

"Some of the proposals put forward by India, even if they do not amount to signing the NPT but only adhering to the transparency of the regime, may not be optimal but that is a step in the right direction," he remarked. A big exporter

Endowed with 40 per cent of the world's cheaply extractable uranium, Australia is a big exporter of the mineral. In recent weeks, it has been negotiating a long-term contract for supplies to China, which is embarking on a large expansion of its nuclear power capacity. China is a signatory to the NPT as a nuclear weapon state.

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