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Home > News > Report

No Australian uranium for India: Minister

May 23, 2007 11:18 IST

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Australia again reiterated its refusal to sell uranium to India until it signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The latest salvo against Indian reluctance to join the NPT framework has been fired by Australian Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane.

The Australian politician told Melbourne newspaper, The Age, that the ban on uranium sale to India would remain in force till the latter signs the NPT.

'The answer is no', Macfarlane was quoted as saying by The Age. 'The Australian uranium industry can prosper without India, that's my answer. We have a prohibition on the basis that they have not signed the NPT'.

Speculation was rife that Australia may relax its policy of not selling fuel for the burgeoning Indian civil nuclear plants.

The Indo-US agreement to transfer nuclear technology was seen as a prpbable indicator for Australia to allow uranium exports to India.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard however, has been hinting at a relaxation in the policy of exporting uranium to India, which is emerging as the leading trade partner for Australia.

India recently sent special 'nuclear envoy' Shyam Sharan to negotiate the issue of uranium sales with Canberra.

Australians seemed to have agreed in principal to facilitate the nuclear fuel exports.

'We see India as a very responsible country. The relationship between Australia and India is growing. It's a very important relationship. These will be considerations that we will bear in mind', Howard had said in response to Saran's mission.

However, the statement by the Australian Minister on Tuesday seems to have dragged the process back to square one.

The Age also pointed out the apparent contradiction with the Australian prime minister's earlier statement.

'There has certainly been no discussion with me and I'm the guy who signs the export permits regarding the potential to supply India', Mcfarlane reportedly said, emphasising that he was simply reiterating this government's policy.