Australian news, and some related international items

Australia joins the nuclear marketing push to India

India-uranium1Australia backs India to join nuclear supplier club, China hesitates
June 23, 2016 Daniel Flitton Senior Correspondent Australia will formally back India to join the club of nuclear suppliers at a summit in Seoul on Friday, a move that will finally lay to rest a bitter stoush over selling uranium to the nuclear armed giant.

But China has signalled it could veto the bid because India has refused to sign the international treaty to stop the spread of atomic weapons.

Toshiba WestinghouseThe US is strongly backing India to join the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, seen as the last hurdle to allow international trade in nuclear materials to India.

The bid has been complicated by a late application from Pakistan to also join the group. India and Pakistan have each built atomic arsenals, but insist they only want access to nuclear materials to generate electricity. The potential sale of uranium to India has a long history and is seen as a test of great power rivalry in the region.

Australia fell out with India during the Kevin Rudd years after Labor junked a Howard-era deal to sell uranium to New Delhi on a promise the yellowcake would only be used for peaceful purposes. Mr Rudd insisted allowing India an exemption would weaken global rules, with an angry India insisting it had never spread nuclear technology.

A fierce debate later erupted within Labor after Julia Gillard decided to reverse Australia’s position and back the deal.

Labor’s national platform now calls for the export of uranium “only under the most stringent conditions” and to countries signed up to the non-proliferation treaty, which limits the number of nuclear armed nations and pledges to work toward disarmament.

Tweedle-NuclearBut Labor has granted India an exception as “an important strategic partner for Australia” despite concern over an Abbott government deal that safeguards on uranium sales to India are too weak and parliamentary calls for additional controls.

Australian diplomats at the meeting in Seoul will “strongly support” India’s application but have yet to commit on Pakistan’s bid.

There is a wait-and-see approach to Pakistan on how it will control export of nuclear materials, given the record of the country’s former chief scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan in providing nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea.

Any country in the nuclear suppliers group effectively wields a veto as the organisation makes decisions only by consensus. China, one of five countries recognised as nuclear-armed nations under international law, has flagged its objection to allowing India into the group without signing the non-proliferation treaty.

But India has refused to sign on, given this would mean surrendering its nuclear weapons.

June 24, 2016 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international

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