Australia in secret uranium talks with India

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by LETHALFORCE, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.smh.com.au/national/secret-uranium-talks-with-india-20110209-1amzy.html?from=smh_sb

    HE federal Labor 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 Resources, Energy and Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, has told the US embassy in Canberra that ''a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached in three to five years''.

    Mr Ferguson also said that the former prime minister and serving Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, had been ''careful … to leave the door open'' for uranium sales to India.
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    Yesterday Mr Ferguson told Parliament that at a meeting last month with the Indian Minister for External Affairs, S. M. Krishna he had ''reaffirmed that the position of the Australian government is that we are not in a position to sell uranium to India''.

    Asked by the Coalition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, whether he had discussed with a foreign government the possibility of a deal to sell uranium to India within the next few years, Mr Ferguson did not respond directly and instead reaffirmed the government's support for the US civil nuclear co-operation agreement with India.

    However, a ''sensitive'' US embassy cable passed to WikiLeaks reveals that in November 2009, the US ambassador, Jeffrey Bleich, reported to Washington that Mr Ferguson had said an arrangement to sell uranium to India could be concluded within a few years.

    His remarks were made in a meeting with Mr Bleich and the US deputy chief of mission, Dan Clune, on November 27, 2009. The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism deputy secretary, Drew Clarke, also attended.

    In a subsequent cable to Washington, Mr Bleich reported that Mr Ferguson had expressed the view that the expansion in uranium mining in Australia reflected ''a shift in willingness to consider nuclear energy''.

    According to Mr Bleich, Mr Ferguson said he ''personally supported the US-India nuclear agreement'' negotiated by the former Bush administration.

    The minister went on to say that Mr Rudd ''had been careful in recent comments in Parliament to leave the door open for uranium exports to other countries, including India''.

    In answer to a question in Parliament the day before Mr Ferguson met Mr Bleich, November 26, 2009, Mr Rudd had reaffirmed government support for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty but went on to emphasise that, although it had not signed the treaty, ''the government of India's history on non-proliferation is very good''.

    ''Obviously we value our relationship with India,'' Mr Rudd said. ''We will continue to work with India in terms of their overall energy needs.''

    Earlier in 2009 a senior BHP Billiton manager, Barry Hewlett, told the US consul-general in Melbourne that India was ''a potentially massive market'' for the company's Olympic Dam uranium mine.

    As opposition leader, Mr Rudd committed Labor to oppose the Howard government's decision to consider uranium sales to India.

    In December 2007 a US official told Labor ministers the US attached high importance to securing approval through the multilateral Nuclear Suppliers Group and that ''Australia should separate its future decision on uranium sales from the separate issue of the NSG decision''.

    The Rudd government subsequently supported the Nuclear Suppliers Group's endorsement of the US-India civil nuclear co-operation agreement while publicly maintaining its opposition to Australian sales of uranium to India.

    The issue has remained an irritant in Australia's relations with India, with the US embassy reporting to Washington in October 2009 that ''Australian contacts believe New Delhi remains deeply frustrated by the Rudd government's reversal of former PM Howard's decision to authorise sale of uranium to India''.
     
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  3. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Looks like USA is playing active role in this . Cheap Raw material means cheap electricity and that means more and more business . I dont think Australia or Japan will be able to go against USA economic intrests .
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    By the time they decide on this issue India may not need any more suppliers???
     
  5. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    or maybe by that time India is part of major groups like NSG being talked here. US & France has already shown their support. Rest will follow in what Obama called as 'Phased-manner'. 3-5 years time is not small. Rudd wants to play it safe & slow.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
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  6. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    LF given the plans we have for the future we will be in need of regular supply of Uranium fuels . reactors will need regular fuel supply .
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    we have 5 nations signed to supply(USA,Kazakstan,Russia,France,Canada).
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    I think Australia thinks India maybe an NPT signatory by then??
     
  9. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Its going to be long tedious journey for changes in NPT & India conditionally accepting it, maybe almost decade or so. In the meanwhile, India has strong deals with major nations so I don't think Australia's stubbornness will affect our fuel supply.

    As the years pass, its Aus loosing its market. But yes, on long enough timeline we need them all including Japs.
     
  10. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    LF but unfortunately Australian ores are of best quality and hence a cost effective solution . It reduces huge amount of cost in ore processing to enrichment .
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    I think we eventually will be importing from Australia, a lot of this maybe price negotiations with political leverage being used by Australians.
     
  12. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    NRJ Australians may wait but Japan cannot wait. USA reactors uses many critical components made in Japan .
    Americans will force them to sign the deal with us . I see deal with Japan coming within a year or two.
     
  13. JayATL

    JayATL Senior Member Senior Member

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    This is good news and movement in the positive direction. The fact they were almost submerged as a country and they need revenue desperately- I see this on faster trajectory in the coming years.
     
  14. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well, not so secret anymore. Lolzz
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  15. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Lift uranium sales ban to India: The Australian- The Heart of The Nation

    NUCLEAR power is essential to clean development.


    THE only regrettable thing about Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's canvassing the possibility of Australia selling uranium to India with the US embassy is that the sales are not under way. If, as leaked WikiLeaks cables suggest, Mr Ferguson told US embassy officials in 2009 that a deal to supply India with uranium could be reached within three to five years there is no good reason not to press ahead now. India needs nuclear power to fuel its economic boom and Australia has a chance to further its influence on the subcontinent by selling India clean energy as well as the coal it needs.

    Not only is Australia's ban on uranium sales to India a negative for the national economy, the issue is an ongoing irritant in our relationship with an important ally. India, as Kevin Rudd has acknowledged, has a "very good" history of nuclear non-proliferation, despite its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The ban is also out of step with world opinion, given that India is engaged in nuclear technology contracts with the US, Britain and Canada and imports uranium from Russia and Kazakhstan.

    The ban also flies in the face of the need for significant carbon cuts, a consideration that renders Greens nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlum's statement that "some days you can smell the uranium on Martin Ferguson's breath" even more ludicrous than it sounds. Given current technology and the limitations of wind and solar power, it is a puzzle that any politician supposedly concerned about carbon does not support safe expansion of nuclear power.

    India, which recently overtook Russia as the third-largest carbon polluter in the world, is yet to extend reliable electricity to about half its 1.1 billion people. Depletion of its uranium reserves caused India's production of nuclear power to fall last decade. Its 19 nuclear plants produce only 4 per cent of its electricity, but that level is expected to doubled over the next 25 years as new plants are commissioned. Without greater reliance on nuclear energy, India's projected increase in greenhouse emissions, which are set to double by 2031, would rise even higher. The same arguments, on a smaller scale, also apply to Australia. As the holder of the world's largest known uranium reserves, it is in our interests to expand exports and embrace nuclear power when it is economical to do so. Mr Ferguson's pragmatism is welcome.


    February 11, 2011 12:00AM
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new...les-ban-to-india/story-e6frg71x-1226003949723
     
  16. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Australian govt under fire following reports on uranium sale to India
    http://www.dnaindia.com/world/repor...wing-reports-on-uranium-sale-to-india_1505932

    Published: Thursday, Feb 10, 2011, 15:57 IST
    Place: Melbourne | Agency: PTI

    The Australian government today came under criticism for its "double game" in the wake of reports that secret US cables passed to WikiLeaks have revealed that Canberra could sell uranium to India within years despite the ruling Labour's policy of not supplying it to non-NPT States.

    The disclosure has prompted the Greens party to seek answers from the Labour to explain if it secretly supported uranium sale to India.

    According to the Sydney Morning Herald, US cables passed to WikiLeaks revealed that resources minister Martin Ferguson told US officials in 2009 that a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached within years, a posturing that contradicts the present stand of banning it against India for not signing Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    Greens nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlum said it appeared the government was playing a "double game".

    "I swear some days you can smell the uranium on Martin Ferguson's breath," he was quoted as saying by local media.

    The Greens were now demanding that the government make a statement of clarification to Parliament.

    Labour senator Doug Cameron said Australia should not entertain the idea of trading uranium with India until it met international obligations.

    The opposition Liberal party, which supports uranium sale to India, said it was encouraged by signs that the government appeared more flexible on the issue.

    "It finally seems that the Labour party is showing some common sense on this issue," the opposition's resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane said, adding that it made no sense not to sell uranium to India.

    India has been lobbying the Australian government to overturn its ban on uranium sales. The issue had also figured during external affairs minister SM Krishna's recent visit here.

    Australia controls the world's largest known resources of uranium and is the third largest producer of the yellow cake after Kazakhstan and Canada.
     
  17. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    No to Indian uranium sales Katharine Murphy
    February 11, 2011

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/no-to-indian-uranium-sales-20110210-1aoot.html

    AUSTRALIA will not sell uranium to India until it signs a nuclear non-proliferation treaty and completes a safeguards agreement, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says.

    Mr Ferguson declined to comment on the contents of a leaked diplomatic cable, revealed in The Age yesterday, suggesting Australia was planning to sell yellowcake to India within the next three to five years in contrast to the official stance, which is to ban sales until India signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

    ''We will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the NPT and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia,'' said Mr Ferguson, who is a strong supporter of expanding uranium mining and exports.

    Advertisement: Story continues below In the last year of the Howard government, preliminary steps were taken to export uranium to India despite the fact it was outside the nuclear treaty. While some in the then newly elected Rudd government also privately supported the idea of selling uranium to India, Labor shut down the Howard process while it took steps to reform the international nuclear regime.

    Uranium and nuclear power remains a thorny issue with Labor's rank and file, but developing both industries has support in influential quarters of the party.

    A senior Indian government official told The Age this month that India was dismayed by Australia's continued refusal to sell it uranium.

    ''This decision of the Australian government not to sell uranium to our country, it does not make us happy, I will be frank.

    ''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.''
     
  18. JayATL

    JayATL Senior Member Senior Member

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    well that pretty much puts it to a rest, till the next time a leak is published and it puts this stance up for debate again. In politics everything denied or confirmed is subject to change :)
     
  19. chex3009

    chex3009 Regular Member

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    'India not rogue state. Be flexible on uranium supply'


    Melbourne: Making a strong pitch for uranium sale to India, a senior Australian minister has asked the Labor government to be "flexible" on the issue as the country is "not a rogue state" and deserves special consideration.
    "No one can suggest India is a rogue state," Federal Resource Minister Martin Ferguson said, while asking his government to modernise its policy of not supplying uranium to non-NPT States.


    "I think this is something the Labor Party has to think about: there should be some flexibility or discretion built into the national policy that enables Australia to handle the delicate situation of India while at the same time forcing full accountability in the use of uranium in civilian power plants," he was quoted as saying by Fairfax media.


    The ruling party's current uranium sale policy needs to allow "flexibility and discretion" when it comes to India, said Ferguson, who last month met External Affairs Minister S M Krishna during his Australia visit.
    His statement feeds expectations that the Labor party will hold a contentious debate at its next national conference later this year to consider reversing its current uranium sale policy.


    Ferguson said that he will not ask Labor to open its ban on uranium exports to countries outside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), but rather recognise that India deserves special consideration.
    "I accept (that our refusal to export uranium) is a major concern in an otherwise close strategic relationship between Australia and India."


    Any future uranium sale to India would be accompanied by a bilateral safeguards agreement such as the one Australia negotiated with China in 2007, and Canberra would want inspections on the ground.
    The Minister's comments came after a media report disclosed that a US cable passed to the whistle-blower website Wikileaks indicated that a nuclear fuel deal with India was being seen in the next three to five years.
    His remarks also came ahead of an expected move by the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) to pass a resolution supporting an expansion of uranium mining and endorsing a debate about nuclear power, the report said.

    Source : http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4928639
     
  20. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    ^^ So it looks like Federal Resource Minister Martin Ferguson is an emerging voice in the Australian political ensemble. We need more such people who can argue this out in favour of getting Australia involved in the Uranium trade with India. Let us wait and watch what unfolds ahead.
     

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