Uranium supply to India is on the way

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India

After years of toing and froing, a uranium shipment left for India in a hush, announced by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who is visiting India. The Federal Government was, however, tight lipped about further details ”“ the supplier, quantity etc, saying that it was subject to commercial negotiations.

The two governments had cleared the decks for uranium supply with a civilian nuclear supply treaty in 2014 but there have been many protests and union bans that put roadblocks in the actual supply. The treaty was first of the type signed with a country not party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The US-India nuclear deal in 2008 negotiated between President Bush and PM Manmohan Singh was a highlight of the then Congress government in India. The deal that lifted three decades of US moratorium on nuclear trade with India was seen as a watershed in US-India relations, providing assistance to India’s civilian nuclear energy programme, energy and satellite technology.

There were many critics of the US-India deal arguing that it would set a nuclear arms race in Asia. But Australia was not among them. Former PM Tony Abbott provided full support for the uranium supply to proceed as, according to him, it would alleviate energy crisis in India.

There was opposition in India, too, of the deal as it opened the civilian reactors to International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) inspections. The Indian Prime Minister, however, argued that India retained the sole right to nominate civilian reactors open for inspections and would not be constrained in building future civilian or military facilities. In March 2006, India declared 14 of its 22 reactors to be under IAEA safeguards.

India has recently announced plans to build 10 new reactors that are estimated to eventually provide 7,000 megawatts of clean electricity.

Ms Julie Bishop said the Government was confident Australian uranium would not be misused.

“We cleared all of the parliamentary requirements for the civilian nuclear supply agreement, and we see India as a country that has adhered to its non-proliferation assurances,” she said.





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