Manmohan meets Gillard, discusses uranium issueNovember 19th, 2011 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS
Nusa Dua (Bali), Nov 19 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard met here Saturday for a brief interaction to take forward discussions on selling uranium to India.
The unscheduled interaction between the two leaders took place on the sidelines of the India-Asean and East Asia summits.
“I am taking the change of policy to my party conference in December,” the Australian prime minister was quoted as telling journalists.
Manmohan Singh and Gillard had spoken on the phone, a day after the Australian prime minister signalled the plan to lift a long standing ban on uranium sales to India and pushed her Labour Party to change its stance, citing New Delhi’s growing economy and its ambitious atomic energy plans.
The final decision rests with Gillard’s Labour party, which will meet next month.
Pressure will be on Gillard to get her party to agree to her proposal even though India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
India had hailed Gillard’s move, announced Nov 15, saying it was a recognition of its “impeccable non-proliferation credentials” and growing energy needs.
“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 and transparency measures which will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes,” Gillard had written in the Sydney Morning Herald.
For the past four years, the Labour government has linked uranium exports to India signing the 1970 NPT.
New Delhi refuses to sign the NPT as it considers it discriminatory and a ploy to deprive it of its nuclear deterrence. In the end, however, stronger relations with a democratic India armed with a growing economy seem to have won the day.
Gillard also held a press conference in Melbourne and pushed her colleagues in the ruling Labour Party to change their stand on selling uranium TO India and cited three reasons for doing so.
Firstly, Gillard argued that selling uranium to India “will be good for the Australian economy and good for Australian jobs”.
Gillard went on to add that India plans to increase the share of nuclear power from its current three percent of electricity generation to 40 percent by 2050 - a fact that should benefit Australia which is the world’s third largest supplier of uranium.
Secondly, she said the uranium sale will be “another step forward” in Australia’s relationship with India, the world’s largest democracy and a rising economic giant.
Thirdly, she argued that the US-India civil nuclear agreement has effectively lifted the de-facto international ban on cooperation with India in this area, and added that in view of changed global circumstances, “for us to refuse to budge is all pain with no gain and I believe that our national platform should recognise that reality”.
(Minu Jain can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)
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