Australian news, and some related international items

IAEA finds Lynas rare earths plan unsatisfactory – no proper radioactive waste plan

antnuke-relevantflag-MalaysiaIAEA reports no long-term plan for Lynas waste, Malaysian Insider  17 October 2014 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday gave a passing safety grade to a controversial Malaysia rare earths plant, but raised concerns that there was no long-term plan for properly disposing of the plant’s potentially radioactive waste.

The rare earths processing plant in the state of Pahang has generated opposition from green groups who fear radioactive contamination and have accused authorities and Lynas of overriding public concern.

In a report, the IAEA said it saw little risk of contamination due to the low-level radiation involved, and that its investigators were “not able to identify any instances of non-compliance” with international standards. “Lynas needs to demonstrate that the disposal of solid waste can be carried out in a safe manner over the long-term,” the report said.

It recommended that Malaysian authorities require Lynas to come up with a plan.

“There is a lack of a plan for managing the waste from the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant at the end of its life,” it said……

However, it also appeared to underscore environmentalists’ concerns that Australian miner Lynas Corp has no long-term plan for the disposal of waste from the plant.-


October 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment

A worry for the govt when John Carlson gets worried about the India nuclear deal

India-uranium1Nuclear deal with India compromised by ‘vague’ details on keeping track of uranium The Age October 5, 2014
Daniel Flitton Senior Correspondent “…….Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed such a deal with India last month, a ‘‘treaty for co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy’’. But there is a worry that this difficult agreement, years in the making, might not have the same careful protections as Australia’s other arrangements.

This concern hardly comes from a usual left-of-field suspect, stridently opposed to anything nuclear. Instead, the alarm is from the former chief of Australia’s atomic watchdog and, in assessing the India deal, he used words like  vague and meaningless.

John Carlson headed the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation office for more than two decades until 2010. Continue reading

October 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

John Carlson calls for full parliamentary scrutiny on Australia-India nuclear deal

India-uranium1Australia-India nuclear deal: The need for full parliamentary scrutiny, The Interpreter, John Carlson, 1 Oct 14  In a previous post, I pointed out how the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement departs from Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements. In particular, there is a risk that the follow-on ‘administrative arrangement’ could deprive Australia of the ability to track and account for Australian uranium supplied to India.

It is not too late to address this problem in a way that ensures the agreement is meaningful and can command bipartisan support in Australia. There will be a crucial role here for the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which will have the opportunity to scrutinise the agreement and to ask the necessary and difficult questions about the administrative arrangement.

Here there are two practical issues: the administrative arrangement has not yet, as far as we know, been negotiated, so it will not be available when JSCOT commences its review of the agreement; and in any case it is the usual practice to treat administrative arrangements as being confidential.

The Abbott Government should proceed no further with the agreement unless it can give an assurance that all of Australia’s longstanding safeguards requirements will be met. Continue reading

October 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

John Carlson, former head of Australian Safeguards, condemns uranium deal with India

highly-recommendedSee below a very strong critique of the Australia-India nuclear cooperation agreement from John Carlson, former head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, who worked tirelessly for many years to weaken safeguards standards …

It is not good enough to simply say that we trust India because it has an ‘impeccable’ non-proliferation record (and India’s record in any case is not ‘impeccable’).The reporting procedures are not optional; they are fundamental to Australia’s ability to confirm that our safeguards conditions are being met. They have long applied to close and trusted partners such as the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea. There is absolutely no case to waive them for India.

Is the Abbott Government abandoning Australia’s nuclear safeguards standards for India? John Carlson AM is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He was Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and its predecessor the Australian Safeguards Office from 1989 to 2010. Lowy Interpreter,  1 October 2014

The signing last month of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement between Australia and India has been greeted as an important step towards closer relations between the two countries, as well as bringing India into the global nuclear energy mainstream. These are worthy objectives, but not at any cost. Continue reading

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

French company AREVA will get to have 51% interest , later more, in joint uranium venture with Toro Energy

AREVA-Medusa1Toro signs NT deal with AREVA The West AustralianSeptember 29, 2014 Toro Energy has signed a farm-in and joint venture agreement with French uranium and nuclear power giant AREVA in the Northern Territory.

The agreement covers a 2292sqkm tenement package in the Wiso Basin, southwest of Tennant Creek.

“Toro believes that its relatively unexplored Wiso Basin tenement package is ideally placed for exploring for a sandstone-hosted uranium mineralising system of a size and scale not unlike those found in Kazakhstan, where six of the world’s top 15 producing uranium mines are currently in operation,” the company said in a statement.

Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said the company was excited to have AREVA participate in a substantial exploration portfolio at a time when few companies were actively exploring for uranium in Australia.

“We look forward to adding value to our NT exploration targets through a long and beneficial relationship with one of the world’s most respected uranium groups,” she said. Under the terms of the agreement, AREVA will spend $500,000 within two years of to earn a 51 per cent interest in the joint venture properties.

Upon reaching 51 per cent, AREVA will then have the option to spend another $1.5 million over four years for a further 29 per cent interest for a total 80 per cent stake.

Drilling is expected to begin in the first half of 2015.

Toro shares closed steady at 9.1 cents.


October 1, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia is in blatant violation of the Nuclear non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

India-uranium1A BLATANT VIOLATION OF Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty–SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 By  By Yusra Mushtaq Amongst the various accords of Arms Control and Disarmament, the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has widely been adhered to by most of the countries, which gives testament to the worth of this treaty. Nevertheless, it also has been the fate of being violated again and again by its own signatory members — most recently by Australia which signed a uranium deal with India, ade-facto, but non-signatory state. Previously, the US a big proponent of NPT, paved the way for this kind of illegal nuclear cooperation with the non-NPT state of India by signing a deal back in 2005. The blatant violation of NPT left no room for India to sign this treaty because it already enjoys full benefits as if it were a NPT member state without any restricted conditions.

Largely based on the three pillars of Non-Proliferation, Disarmament and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, the NPT serves as a central bargain. “The NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agrees to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals”. There are 190 states which have joined the NPT club. It is extended for indefinite period of time which reflects its obligatory status. In order to make Global Nuclear Non Proliferation and NPT particularly more fruitful, many substantive initiatives have been taken. They are dominated by export controls regime like Nuclear Suppliers Group and enhanced verification measures of IAEA Additional Protocols. The sole aim of all efforts is to end every possible mean to acquire nuclear weapons. Within this context, success becomes a far off cry as NPT is in a fix between global and national interests of respective states.

Australia signed a deal to sell uranium to India to coin the natural blessing of one third of world’s uranium reserves for the sake of national interests. It is the first non-NPT signatory nation with whom Australia has inked a nuclear deal. Australia is the tenth country in the world that has signed a nuclear deal with India. Both the states are joining hands happily while violating the norms of NPT so blatantly. There is a sheer absence of handwringing editorials at the international news desks. Between the celebrations of this so-called triumph, no one is talking of the sanctity of international arms treaties…….

an irony for the  Global Non Proliferation Regime that there are high voices for NPT to be adhered to, but at the same time its own vocal members have optimized national interests over the security of the whole globe. All are quiet on the sheer violence on this international violation of a treaty because it’s a matter of great powers vested national interests with a de facto state. For this Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher stated; “The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”  Yusra Mushtaq is a scholar on the issues of defense and security.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia vilified at New York Climate Summit

Map-Abbott-climateAustralia’s climate stance savagely condemned at New York summit SMH  September 27, 2014  Nick O’Malley US correspondent for Fairfax Media  “…….in his address to the General Assembly, Leonardo DiCaprio sought to buttress his call for drastic and immediate action to reduce carbon emissions with a voice harder to challenge than his own.

“The Chief of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat,” said DiCaprio. “My friends, this body – perhaps more than any other gathering in human history – now faces that difficult task. You can make history, or be vilified by it.”

The speech was well given and well received, but it turned out that his prediction was not entirely correct. Australia did not have to wait for history, it was vilified for its stance on climate change on the spot…….”I’m disappointed but not surprised with Australia,” Pa Ousman Jarju, Gambia’s Climate Change Minister who represents the 54 least developed nations at UN climate talks, told the Responding to Climate Change analysis website later. “What the Foreign Minister [Julie Bishop] said was as good as not coming. It’s nothing… as good as not attending.”Indeed Tony Abbott did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, though many attendees detected a reference to Australia – among a handful of other notable recalcitrants – in Barack Obama’s keynote speech……..

it was Australia and to an extent Canada that were subject to most of the opprobrium, in part because they have already enjoyed the economic benefits of carbon emissions, in part because China is perceived to be on the brink of significant action.

One of the successes of Tuesday’s meeting was China’s announcement for the first time ever that it would set an emissions target, aiming to reduce its emissions of carbon per unit of GDP by 45 per cent by 2020, compared with levels in 2005.

“As a responsible major country, a major developing country, China will make even greater effort to address climate change,” Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said.

“All countries need to follow the path of green and low carbon development that suits their national conditions, [and] set forth post-2020 actions in light of actual circumstances.”

An adviser who attended a meeting of small island states that excoriated Australia’s inaction on climate said the group now viewed China’s commitments optimistically.

The reaction to Australia’s presence could not have been more different. Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, told Fairfax that small islands states were frustrated and baffled by Australia’s stance, especially as they had regarded the nation as a “big brother down south” and advocated for its seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Asked if “betrayal” was too strong a word, he paused and said, “Now it is, maybe not soon.”

On Tuesday the Pulitzer Prize-winning climate change news website Inside Climate News published a story about the “Canada-Australia axis of carbon”. It suggested that not only were the two nations not willing to pull their weight, but that they were seeking to derail the binding agreement on emissions reductions at next year’s talks in Paris that many view as the world’s last best hope to prevent catastrophic climate change.

“Neither the prime ministers of Canada nor Australia will speak at the summit, and the subordinates they have sent will not be offering the kind of “bold” new steps that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seeking on the way to a treaty in Paris late next year,” it reported.

“Instead, these two governments, with their energy-rich domains sprawling across opposite ends of the earth, will present strikingly similar defences against what much of the rest of the world is offering. And their stance is earning them opprobrium among advocates of strong and immediate action.”

The online magazine Slate published a story headlined, “The Saudi Arabia of the Pacific, How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world.”

It charted Australian climate politics since the last election – noting for an international audience Australia’s history as a leader in solar technology, the creation and then scrapping of a carbon trading scheme, the promotion of climate change sceptics to key advisory roles, the attacks on the solar industry, the scrapping of the mining tax, the failed bid to expand logging in Tasmanian wilderness.

“Let’s hope that the rapacious policies of the current government represent only a temporary bout of insanity,” Slate concluded. “If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there but openly hostile.”

September 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia helps destabilise Asia-Pacific in selling uranium to India

India-uranium1Australia and uranium: the pusher of the Pacific By Adam Broinowski 19.Sep.14 “……… The new demand from India will include uranium mined from Ben Lomond near Mt Isa which is likely to be shipped from Townsville Port, and coal mined from the gargantuan Galilee Basin and shipped from Abbott Point, passing through the dredged Great Barrier Reef, or freighted by road to Darwin or Adelaide ports (which hold uranium licenses). The Australia-India uranium agreement supports this concerted and accelerated push.

In cementing a nuclear deal with India, the Abbott government has committed to selling uranium to a nation-state that barely conceals its intentions to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal and that rejects the NPT and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)………..

First, the Australia-India uranium trade agreement is unsafe. If Japan’s nuclear industry and government have proven unable to properly contain the potential for serious nuclear accidents at its domestic nuclear power plants, then India’s nuclear industry, which is much less reliable and possibly even more corrupt, poses even higher risks of mismanagement.

Internally, India is also unstable, as the government fights an embedded insurgency. It maintains a violently repressive approach to imposing nuclear installations and uranium operations (such as Gorakhpur, Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Jagudoga) upon vulnerable communities, and against the wishes of civil protesters, five of whom have been killed since 2010. While guaranteed only intermittent electricity supply, such communities are experiencing higher rates of disease, congenital malformations and early deaths. In Jagudoga, Jharkhand (19,500 people), those living near the central uranium mine operated by Uranium Corp. of India Ltd. (UCIL), have suffered disproportionately high health problems……….

Second, while Tony Abbott reiterated that ‘suitable safeguards’ were in place to ensure that Australian uranium would be used for ‘peaceful purposes’ and for ‘civilian use only’, such ambiguous terms create false impressions. Nuclear technologies are inherently dual-use (both for civil energy production and military use), and it is disingenuous to claim that a water-tight separation can be ensured. In fact, ten of India’s twenty nuclear facilities do not fall under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervisional authority, and India only selectively recognises IAEA safeguards for specific foreign supplied reactors and facilities. With no mechanism to inspect this nuclear technology to ensure that the fuel is not diverted into nuclear weapons production, safety cannot be guaranteed.

Even if the diverted fuel was discovered, neither Australia nor the IAEA could force compliance. An influx of imported foreign uranium will simply make it easier for India to reserve some of its indigenous uranium for enrichment and/or reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium, or for some of Australia’s uranium to be ‘misallocated’ toward military facilities.

In effect, Tony Abbott’s policy to treat India as the exception undermines the IAEA standards within the disarmament regime, and breaches Australia’s obligations to the Rarotonga Treaty for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.

Third, and perhaps most significant, the deal will upset the ‘balance’ between India-Pakistan and in the South Asian region so as to aggravate rivalries and intensify tensions between the two nations, as well as others such as China and Bangladesh………

While leaders such as Abe, Abbott and Modi downplay the reality confronting people affected by radiation exposures from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, we should remember that this contamination came, in part, from Australian uranium.

The refusal of executive leaders to acknowledge the dangers of the uranium trade reflects the centrality of nuclear power to the US-led security regime that seeks to dominate non-compliant nations such as China or Russia………

Dr Adam Broinowski is an ARC postdoctoral research fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University.


September 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott exaggerated India’s nuclear safety

Abbott-liarFact check: Tony Abbott exaggerating India’s ‘absolutely impeccable record’ on nuclear non-proliferation ABC News, Wed 24 Sep 2014,   A new bilateral agreement signed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in early September will allow Australia to sell uranium to India for the first time.

The agreement formalises a 2007 Howard government policy to allow Australian uranium to be exported to India for energy generation, overturning a decades-old ban on uranium sales to countries which had not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)………

Mr Abbott says the agreement is a sign of trust between the two countries. “India has an absolutely impeccable record when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation,” he said…..

Diverting nuclear material from peaceful purposes

The promise not to divert nuclear material, such as uranium, from peaceful purposes to the development of nuclear weapons is a key plank of both the NPT and Australia’s uranium export policy.

Dr Rublee says India certainly does not have an impeccable record when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation.

“I do believe it’s a stretch to say it’s impeccable and in fact, the fact that India’s program began by explicitly breaking a legal commitment to Canada, tells you that there’s a problem from the very start,” she said.

Dr Rublee is referring to India’s first nuclear test, when it exploded the ‘Smiling Buddha’ nuclear bomb in 1974 using plutonium from a nuclear reactor supplied by Canada. The Canadian government immediately stopped supplying India with nuclear materials, a ban that was only overturned in 2010.

Former Labor foreign minister Professor Gareth Evans, who convenes the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, also cites India’s diversion of Canadian resources to making nuclear weapons as evidence that their record is not impeccable.

“There should be no waiving of our standard safeguards requirements when it comes to accounting for Australian-supplied nuclear material,” he said.

Dr Rublee says there are also issues with how India secures its nuclear material………

India has increased its nuclear weapons stockpile, conducted nuclear testing and refused to sign the NPT. There are also question marks over its safety procedures. India’s record when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation is not “absolutely impeccable”.

Mr Abbott’s claim is exaggerated.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear agreement with Argentina( may mean return of radioactive wastes?)

Argentina reaches nuclear agreements with Australia, Russia, Business News America By Andrew Baker – Tuesday, September 23, 2014 Argentina signed a contract to provide Australia with nuclear fuel for the latter’s Opal research reactor, built byArgentine technology firm Invap.

Argentine planning minister Julio De Vido encouraged further nuclear cooperation between the two countries at the signing, which took place at an event in Vienna, Austria held by the International Atomic Energy Agency……… The Australia contract follows news of an agreement between Argentina and Russia to cooperate on nuclear development.   (I’m prety sure that this agreement includes the return of nuclear wastes to Australia)…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia breaches South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty in selling uranium to India

India-uranium1Uranium sale to India breach nuclear treaty  Dave Sweeney, 8 Sept 14, When it comes to uranium sales it is a case of let both the buyer and seller beware. Tony Abbott’s plan to sell Australian uranium to nuclear-armed India is irresponsible and risky.

India is a nuclear-armed nation that is expanding its nuclear weapons program amid a high-stakes standoff with its neighbour and rival Pakistan. India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is not subject to full international or independent scrutiny.

Supplying uranium in this context breaches Australia’s obligations under the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

Mr Abbott’s plan also ignores the serious and unresolved safety and security problems facing India’s nuclear industry. These were highlighted two years ago when the Indian Auditor-General warned of “a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster if the nuclear safety issue is not addressed”.


September 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | 1 Comment

Uranium deal brings Australia closer to India and Japan, but not China

India-uranium1Bringing India into Australia’s nuclear family, SMH, Mark Kenny 5 Sept 14

“………Energy policy is another great challenge, which brings us back to Abbott’s visit. The tangible – yet officially unconfirmed – mission here is commercial – to sign an inter-country safe-guards agreement removing the last impediments to Australian uranium sales to India. Insiders say it could also to facilitate direct Indian investment in what might otherwise be marginal uranium mines in Australia.

The trade is something John Howard wanted and Julia Gillard got moving on decisively in 2012. And it is a circle the pro-nuclear Abbott is more than happy to square notwithstanding India’s refusal to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For Abbott and Modi, whose popularity is also tied up in nationalism, the uranium agreement fits a broader narrative. Modi just returned from a five-day visit to Japan for talks with Abbott’s close ally, Shinzo Abe…….

When he nominated Japan as Australia’s best friend in Asia, it was on the basis of its westernised liberal-democratic values – the contradistinction with China was left unsaid.

One imagines the same logic is underpinning the new bilateral relationship Abbott wants to forge with India.

September 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s new ban on uranium to Russia should be permanent

uranium-trail.Russia uranium ban should stay: Greens (Oz) Sep 2014 | Scott Ludlam Confirmation that the Australian Government has suspended potential uranium sales to the Russian Federation has been welcomed by the Greens, after questions placed by Adam Bandt MP in the House and Senator Scott Ludlam in the Senate.

“The Australian Greens have argued that uranium sales to the Russian Federation should never have been contemplated in the first place,” Senator Ludlam said.

“President Putin’s implied threat of nuclear escalation last week, saying, “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” underlies the risks that Australia faces in fuelling the nuclear industry in Russia and elsewhere.

“With heightened tensions resulting from Russia’s military actions in eastern Ukraine, it is entirely appropriate for the Australian Government to prevent Australian uranium from being shipped to the Russian Federation,” said Senator Ludlam.

“The Greens believe we should revert to an outright ban and caution Prime Minister Abbott against opening a new line of atomic instability with India, which has refused to sign up to international legal agreements on non-proliferation and disarmament.”

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

India is by no means a safe place to send Australia’s uranium

Australian and Indian nuclear trade Hasan Ehtisham 4 Sept 14  Adding Australian uranium into India’s energy mix would have serious fallouts on prevailing strained relations between India and its nuclear-armed neighbours  Australia is expected to sign a civil nuclear agreement with India during the visit of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott early next month. Negotiations have been concluded to smooth the path for uranium imports from Australia.


The news came out when hundreds of thousands of Indian men and women protested against the expanding nuclear industry. These protests have been a regular feature in Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana), and at least five activists have lost their lives since 2010 in their struggle against the Indian government’s decision without taking the affected parties on board. Radioactive waste from uranium mining in the country’s east is reportedly affecting adjacent communities. Thousands of Indians suffer from the effects of uranium mining  related to poor technical and management practices. Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Abbott sanctions agricultural exports to Russia, but uranium exports continue

hypocrisy-scaleAustralia to Step Up Economic Sanctions on Russia  Trade Between Two Nations Worth $1.68 Billion a Year , WSJ By ROB TAYLOR 1 Sept 14 CANBERRA, Australia—Australia will ratchet up economic sanctions against Russia in response to its military action in Ukraine, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying Moscow risked becoming an “international pariah.”

Australia plans to match measures introduced by the European Union last month and increase restrictions on the access of Russian state-owned banks to Australian capital markets, Mr. Abbott said, while barring the export of goods and services for use in Russia’s oil exploration and production.

But the list of additional sanctions didn’t mention the sale of Australian uranium….

September 2, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment


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