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Uranium ‘debate’ the ALP will regret

The Prime Minister’s regrettable cave-in on uranium sales to India is the latest in a long and dishonourable line of ALP policy capitulations on uranium and nuclear security issues, Australian Greens nuclear issues spokesperson Scott Ludlam said today.

“The mining industry is now setting foreign policy to suit their commercial interests, through their Cabinet representative Martin Ferguson,” Senator Ludlam said.

India is involved in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan, but is faced with a severe supply shortage. K. Subrahmanyam, former head of the National Security Advisory Board, spelled out Australia’s proposed role: “Given India’s uranium ore crunch and the need to build up (India’s) nuclear deterrent arsenal as fast as possible, it is to India's advantage to categorise as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refuelled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons grade plutonium production.”

“The main problem with the mining industry’s takeover of Australian foreign policy is the dangerous ignorance of the volatile security environment into which Australia is now blundering,” Senator Ludlam said.

“Selling uranium to India is illegal under Article IV of the Treaty of Raratonga.

“It violates the 1995 agreement at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) conference that full scope safeguards should be a condition of supplying uranium.

“It deliberately undermines the NPT, the rules nearly every country on earth has signed up for; only India, Pakistan and Israel have refused to sign on.

“Australia’s prudent and principled stance for the last 41 years was based on these foundations.

“It is easy to understand why the uranium sector would be happy to violate this fragile agreement; for four decades we’ve relied on Governments to keep the industry in check.

“The faux-debate at the ALP conference in December is clearly a foregone conclusion, and one that the ALP leadership will eventually regret,” Senator Ludlam said.

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