Rejecting suggestions that selling uranium to India will risk global security, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Tuesday said it would, in fact, make the world a safer place.
"I don't think there is a risk. I think the reverse will happen. The more you can get the Indian nuclear programme - civil nuclear programme under UN
inspections - under the UN protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the better," he told a radio channel.
"I think that creates a safer and more secure environment for those power stations. They don't need Australian uranium for nuclear weapons - they've done it already," he said.
Downer's remarks came ahead of the consideration of the issue of selling uranium to India by the Australian Cabinet's powerful national security committee on Tuesday.
The committee is due to consider a submission from Downer recommending that Australia sell uranium to the subcontinent to provide fuel for India's expanding nuclear power industry.
It is expected to give the green light, which will herald a radical shift in Australia's foreign policy, which prevents uranium sales to countries that have not signed the
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, The Age said.
Downer, however, said Australia would negotiate a nuclear
safeguards agreement with India before any sales proceeded.
"We will not export uranium without having our normal and very rigorous nuclear safeguards agreements in place," he said.
Downer said selling uranium to other countries would also bring environmental benefits, by reducing their reliance on coal for energy generation.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who heads the national security committee, said he supported uranium
sales to India to enhance the relationship.