Australian news, and some related international items

With current Ukraine crisis should Australia be selling uranium to Russia?

Aust-two-faced-on-peaceShould we be selling uranium still to Russia?, Independent Australia Dave Sweeney 4 August 2014, Australia’s treaty watchdog refused to endorse the treaty to sell uranium to Russia due to security issues. Dave Sweeney, theAustralian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear-free campaigner, calls for the treaty to be reviewed in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy.  IT IS appropriate that Australia takes strong action to send a clear message to Moscow in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy.  Not welcoming Russian president Vladimir Putin to the G20 summit in November would be one step.

Immediately halting Australian uranium sales would be another.

Uranium is a dual use fuel. It provides the power fuel for nuclear reactors and the bomb fuel for nuclear weapons — and the distinction between the two sectors is more one of political convenience than practical effect……….

In 2007 and again in 2008, Russia threatened Poland with nuclear strikes from missiles it would base at its enclave of Kaliningrad following Polish approval for U.S. missile defence bases in Poland.  Today, as clashes continue along the Ukrainian border, we can be sure Moscow’s missiles are on high alert………

JSCOT, to its considerable credit, recommended a mix of caution and action in relation to Australian uranium sales to Russia. It called for any sales to be linked to Russian compliance with a set of essential pre-conditions including a detailed analysis of Russia’s nuclear non-proliferation status; the complete separation of Russia’s civil and military nuclear sectors; reductions in industry secrecy; independent safety and security assessments of Russian nuclear facilities; and action on nuclear theft and smuggling concerns.

None of these have been realised and as the crackdown on EcoProtection! shows, the Russian nuclear sector is becoming even less transparent. JSCOT urged that

“actual physical inspection by the IAEA occurs”

at any Russian sites that may handle Australian uranium and recommended that

“the supply of uranium to Russia should be contingent upon such inspections being carried out.”……..

Despite these concerns successive Australian governments have furthered the fiction that the Russian nuclear sector is secure and safe and that nuclear safeguards – meant to stop the cross pollination of the military and civil nuclear sectors – actually work. Sadly, international inspections and scrutiny are limited or absent and perceived commercial interests have been given precedence over proven safety and security concerns.

In late December 2010 the first shipment of Australian uranium, sourced from Energy Resources of Australia’s embattled Ranger mine in Kakadu — itself the site of a severe contamination event last December — arrived in Russia.

Putting the promises of an under-performing resource sector ahead of evidence-based assessment has seen Australia squander a real chance to advance nuclear non-proliferation. However the tragic reality of Russian instability seen in the downing of MH 17, the continuing concerns over the safety of the Russian nuclear sector and the growing suppression of critics and public interest watchdogs has refocused attention and the need for clear action.

President Putin’s civil atomic aspirations exceed the capacity of Russia’s nuclear sector while his military ones have no place on a habitable planet. Neither should be fuelled by Australian uranium.

Dave Sweeney is the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear free campaigner. You can follow Dave on @NukeDaveSweeney.,6730

August 4, 2014 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium

1 Comment »

  1. Love your artwork too, Ms. MacPherson!


    Comment by miningawareness | August 11, 2014 | Reply

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