Australia baulks at selling uranium to India

Business Materials 8 September 2008 06:17 (UTC +04:00)

Australia will not sell uranium to India despite voting with other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to end a 34-year embargo on nuclear trade with Delhi, officials said Monday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took office in November pledged to withhold uranium sales so long as India remains outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). John Howard, his conservative predecessor, held that India's refusal to sign the NPT should not debar it from importing uranium from Australia, custodian of 40 per cent of the world's known reserves.

"Labor is committed to supplying uranium to only those countries party to the NPT," Trade Minister Simon Crean told The Australian newspaper. "Australia will therefore not be supplying uranium to India while it is not a member of the NPT."

In a NSG meeting in Vienna at the weekend Australia supported a waiver allowing India to engage in nuclear trade so long as its nuclear programme came under an inspection regime.

The opposition Liberal Party said the Rudd government, which has no objections to selling uranium to China, is being hypocritical by at once supporting technology transfer but banning the export of the feedstock for the nuclear power stations that India wants to build.

The Liberals argue that nuclear power is green energy and Australia ought to be supporting India's efforts to reduce its emissions, dpa reported.