Paritosh Parasher, Melbourne
Australia has once again dashed Indian hopes of supplying uranium by reiterating its policy of not dealing with those countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). “We will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the NPT and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia,” Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson told The Age newspaper Thursday.
Ferguson had told parliament Wednesday that at a meeting last month with visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, he had ‘reaffirmed that the position of the Australian government is that we are not in a position to sell uranium to India’.
The Melbourne-based newspaper had published an exclusive news report about leaked diplomatic cables suggesting Australia may start exporting uranium to India within the next few years. The Age had reported Wednesday that the Australian government ‘has secretly canvassed the possibility of uranium sales to India while publicly asserting that it cannot allow such exports as long as Delhi maintains a nuclear arsenal outside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty’.
The news about the Australian ‘double-talk’ regarding uranium exports to India had led to quite a few red faces in the ruling Labor Party.
Ferguson declined, however, to comment on the contents of the leaked diplomatic cables.
The Age newspaper has also quoted an unnamed ‘senior Indian government official’ expressing disappointment over the Australian reticence to sell it crucial fuel for nuclear power plants. “This decision of the Australian government not to sell uranium to our country, it does not make us happy, I will be frank,” the senior Indian official was quoted as saying.
“We were surprised, because Australia was very supportive of us during the NPT waiver talks. But we are dealing with the realities as they are,” the unnamed Indian official added.
(Paritosh Parasher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)