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Opposition asks Aussie govt to review nuke ties with India

Natasha Chaku in Melbourne | October 03, 2008 18:01 IST

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Australia's [Images] opposition parties have mounted pressure on the Federal Government to review its "blind ideological objection" for Uranium sale to India, after the US Congress approved a landmark bilateral nuclear deal.
"Labour's blind ideological objection to Australia in concluding a similar arrangement with India is a missed opportunity to generate jobs and build the economy," Coalition foreign affairs spokeswoman Helen Coonan said.
The Government lead by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has insisted that it will not sell uranium to India while the country remains outside nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
Senator Coonan said the Coalition continued to support the previous Howard government's commitment to sell uranium to India, subject to safeguards being put in place.
"We have supported this based on recognition of India as an emerging global power, and the fact that by assisting India to get to 35 per cent of domestic power being provided by greenhouse-gas-free nuclear power we can achieve environmental objectives," she said.
Meanwhile, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett was quoted as saying by 'The Age' today that he will allow mining of his state's uranium deposits.
Meanwhile, Neville Roach, Australia-India Business Council chairman, who has asked Australia to help India in reducing emissions by changing its policy on uranium sale, said "Having the world's largest carbon footprint, Australia has a moral obligation to make it easier, rather than more difficult, for India to generate energy in the least polluting way."
India needs secure access to the latest technology as well as uranium ore to expand its nuclear power production substantially.
"As the suppliers group decision does not require India to sign the NPT, Australian government will need to review its longstanding policy to export uranium only to NPT signatories. This will have profound implications on the country's relations with India and the world's response to climate change," Roach further commented.
The suppliers group decision does not preclude individual suppliers setting their own conditions for nuclear trade with India, he said adding Australia, too, like the US and France [Images], can and should negotiate its own conditions to deal with its legitimate concerns.
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