Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time to lift ban on uranium supply to India: Aus PM

Australian PM Julia Gillard has made a strong pitch for uranium sale to India, saying the time has come to lift the long-standing ban on its exports to the dynamic and democratic country.

Gillard said she will urge the party faithful at next month's Labor national conference to reverse a ban on uranium exports to India, bringing Australia into line with America's thinking, a newspaper reported.
"India is our fourth biggest export markets, a market worth nearly USD 16 billion to Australia, with enormous potential to grow as India becomes wealthier," Gillard said on Tuesday.
"As India rises and brings hundreds of millions of people out of poverty it will need more energy," she said.
"We are a very big supplier of uranium so having access to this new and growing market is good for Australian jobs," she said.
Australia is the world's third largest supplier of uranium, which contributed more than USD 750 million to the economy and created more than 4200 jobs.
India was expected to increase its use of nuclear power from the current 3 percent of electricity generation to 40 percent by 2050.
Gillard said lifting the ban was another step forward in Australia's relationship with India.
It came at a time when Australia faced a unique set of opportunities in what she called the "Asian century".
"India as a rising giant will be part of that strong economic growth," she said.
"Put simply, our best possible partnership with India is also good for Australian jobs."
The Australian prime minister declared that it is "time for Labour to modernise our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India."
"As in other areas, broadening our markets will increase jobs. We must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export - strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and strong bilateral undertakings and transparency measures that will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes," she said.
"One of our nearest neighbours is India. Long a close partner. The world's biggest democracy. Growing at 8 percent a year. Yet despite the links of language, heritage and democratic values, in one important regard we treat India differently. We will not sell India uranium for peaceful purposes - though Canada is preparing to - while policy allows us to export it to countries such as China, Japan and the United States," the Australian prime minister said.
"Just as I have said to the nation that we must analyse and understand the opportunities and challenges of this Asian century, the Labor Party too has to focus on our long-term economic goals and be prepared to confront difficult questions about maximising prosperity and the strength of our relationships in our region of the world," she said.
However, Labor's Left faction has conceded it does not have the numbers to prevent a reversal of the party's ban on uranium sales to India.
But, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, a strong supporter of the move, said that he expected the Labour conference to back Gillard.
India welcomes Aus PM's announcement on uranium exports
India on Tuesday welcomed Australian Government's move towards reversing its ban on uranium exports to India.
"We welcome Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's proposal to seek a change in Australia's Labour Party's policies and sale of uranium to India in recognition of our energy needs for the impeccable record in non-proliferation and strategic partnership between two nations," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told reporters in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Krishna said India attaches great importance to its relations with Australia which are growing across the board.
He also said energy was one of the key areas of bilateral cooperation between India and Australia.
Krishna's comments on the sidelines of the ongoing Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) in Bangalore come in the wake of Gillard making a strong pitch for uranium sale to India.
Gillard has said she will urge the party faithful at next month's Labor national conference to reverse a ban on uranium exports to India and lifting the ban was another step forward in Australia's relationship with India.

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