when its paisa ka issue, all their high sounding 'principles' fall in the gutter.
Australia Seeks End of India Uranium Ban
By DAVID FICKLING And RAY BRINDAL
SYDNEY—Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard signaled on Tuesday an end to a decades-long ban on selling uranium to India, a move aimed at taking advantage of demand for cleaner-burning fuels and to offset a potential drop in sales to Japan following this year's earthquake.
The policy shift—outlined by Gillard in a newspaper editorial on Tuesday—comes despite India's continued refusal to sign an international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
Uranium is widely used in the generation of nuclear power, but can also be enriched for use in warheads. India's tense relationship with neighboring Pakistan, especially over the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir, has led New Delhi to remain outside the United Nations' Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
India's rapid industrialization is straining its ability to generate power from traditional energy sources like coal. Concerns over climate change have also prompted it to look at alternative fuels such as nuclear power, and court overseas uranium exporters that can plug a domestic supply gap. At the same time, Australia is looking for new markets for uranium exports after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and prompted several other reactors offline for safety checks. Japan's uranium consumption next year will likely decline by 50%, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, an Australian government agency, said in September.
Olympic Dam in South Australia is a multi-mineral orebody producing copper, gold, silver and uranium.
"It is time for Labor to modernize our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India," Ms. Gillard wrote in a signed editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
The move follows a warming of India's nuclear ties with the U.S., France and Canada in recent years. India signed an agreement with the U.S. in 2005 that opened its civil nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, and led some countries to overturn a ban on uranium exports to the subcontinent.
Ms. Gillard's Labor party will debate the proposal at its conference in Sydney next month, but it has already won support from Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson and other government officials.
"We can sell uranium as a nation to countries such as China and Russia but under our existing policy, which is outdated, Australia can't sell uranium to India," Mr. Ferguson said in an interview on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Tuesday morning.
To buy Australian uranium, India will need to negotiate a detailed bilateral protocol covering the safe handling and accountability for Australian uranium, which will only be used for civil purposes, Mr. Ferguson said.
However, moves by the Labor Party to change policy risk alienating the Greens, which support Ms. Gillard's minority government but are publicly opposed to uranium mining and nuclear power.
"Australia, as a significant global uranium supplier, has a responsibility to acknowledge that India is a nuclear-armed state that obtained its weapons capacity in breach of international commitments," Dave Sweeney, a nuclear-free campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation, said in a statement.
India, which detonated its first nuclear bomb in 1974, has traditionally had trouble sourcing supplies of uranium use in civil nuclear power. The country has an estimated 80-100 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists, an anti-nuclear weapons group.
"Adding Australian uranium to the mix would not ease the long-standing tensions between India and its nuclear-armed neighbors or improve the effectiveness of the global nuclear safeguards regime," Mr. Sweeney said.
Australia has the world's largest uranium reserves, with 23% of all recoverable uranium in the world. The country accounts for around 12% of global uranium exports and is home to two of the five largest uranium mines.
BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Olympic Dam mine in the outback of South Australia state has the world's largest uranium deposit, totalling 2.5 million tons of uranium oxide—enough to supply current global uranium demand for 45 years. The mine is currently working toward a A$30 billion (US$30.62 billion) expansion designed to tap these ores.
Rory Medcalf, international security program director at the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, said India was a "unique case" because it was stable and democratic, and it was unlikely that Australia would change tack in terms of existing opposition to uranium sales to some other states like Israel or Pakistan.
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—Enda Curran in Sydney and Ray Brindal in Canberra contributed to this article.