[Marxism] More on Australian Uranium for India and Indo-US Nuclear Deal

Sukla Sen suklasenp at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Aug 27 22:04:44 MDT 2007


Uranium sales would breach nuclear treaty

Anne Davies Herald Correspondent in Washington
August 28, 2007

AUSTRALIA will be in breach of an anti-nuclear treaty
approved by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander
Downer, if it goes ahead with plans to sell uranium to

Mr Downer, now an advocate of uranium sales,
acknowledged 10 years ago in Hansard that, under the
South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty signed in 1985,
Australia could not sell uranium to countries which
had not signed up to "full scope safeguards" on their
nuclear plants.

Yet Australia's sales to India, which has not signed
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, will be subject
to a regime which experts say falls well short of such
safeguards. Under the draft US-India deal signed this
month, only the civil nuclear plants will be subject
to inspections, while military installations will not.

As Mr Downer put it in 1996: "Article 4(a) of the
South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty imposes a legal
obligation not to provide nuclear material unless
subject to the safeguards required by Article III.1 of
the NPT, that is full scope safeguards."

Mr Downer had been asked about sales of uranium to
Taiwan, which is not a signatory to the
non-proliferation treaty because it lacks nation

A spokesman for Mr Downer said yesterday that the
minister was confident that there was no breach of
Australia's treaty obligations. The proposed Indian
deal had a number of safeguards, including, within the
US-India agreement, the International Atomic Energy
Agency inspection regime.

He did not address the issue of those facilities that
were not subject to inspections.

The latest salvo aimed at Australia's decision to sell
uranium to India comes from the James Martin Centre
for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies in California. It
says Australia will be in breach of the South Pacific
treaty and points to answers Mr Downer gave 10 years
ago in Hansard as proof.

The institute's Washington director, Leonard Spector,
said Australia was trying to find "wriggle room" to
proceed with the sales. "The question of whether
Australia can legally export uranium to India is no
longer in doubt. It cannot."

The US President, George Bush, is likely to discuss
the India agreement with the Prime Minister, John
Howard, next week before the Asia-Pacific Economic
Co-operation forum.

Labor's spokesman on foreign affairs, Rob McClelland,
said the more uranium was exported to a country
outside the non-proliferation regime the greater the
risk of nuclear material falling into the wrong hands.
"This is why Labor does not support the sale of
uranium to a non-signatory to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty."

The former chief United Nations weapons inspector,
Hans Blix, backs the sale of uranium to India,
provided it is used only to generate energy and not to
produce weapons.

But he advocates further treaties to strengthen the
non-proliferation regime. "You would have a treaty
which prohibits states from producing highly enriched
uranium or plutonium for weapons purposes, and with
international verification."

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