No uranium sales unless India signs NPT: Australia

March 19th, 2009 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, March 19 (IANS) Despite the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nod for the historic India-US nuclear deal, Australia, one of the world’s largest producers of uranium, is unwilling to export it to India unless New Delhi signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the country’s envoy says.
“The NSG decision cannot affect our policies and decisions. We are very clear that we would not supply uranium to any country that has not signed the NPT,” Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy told IANS here.

“The present labour government (of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd) is very particular about this issue and there is no chance of laxity in its stand,” the envoy, who was here for a media seminar, added.

“In fact, the previous prime minister of Australia, John Howard, was somewhat lenient and ready for negotiations with India. If this deal had happened during his government then the situation could have been different,” McCarthy stated.

At the same time, the uranium issue would not cloud trade ties between India and Australia, the envoy maintained.

“However, this stance of Australia would not affect trade relations between the two countries. Our bilateral trade is increasing at good pace and our negotiations are on to increase it in coming days.” McCarthy said.

After India and the US signed their watershed nuclear deal and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved India-specific safeguards, the 45-nation NSG in September gave its nod for lifting a global ban on nuclear trade with India, ending nearly 34 years of the country’s isolation.

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