From various news sources, it is clear that Australia has concluded a civil nuclear deal with India recently. Uranium trade between Australia and India is likely to start soon. It appears that the deal has been concluded relatively quickly after India elected its new government. The agreement is likely to be signed by India and Australia during Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to India in the first week of September.
It was Prime Minister John Howard who announced in 2007 that the Australian Govt intended to reverse the ban to sell Uranium to India. It changed when Kevin Rudd became the Prime Minister a few months later. Finally, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was the one who campaigned successfully to get the ALP to reverse its policy to ban Uranium sale to India in December 2011, followed by an agreement between Australia and India to start negotiations on the nitty gritty of the supply agreement in 2012.
Australia-India relations are on an upswing, after having suffered in the recent past.
India is currently the third in the list of countries using nuclear energy. There are 21 nuclear reactors in India producing electricity, but India needs to increase such electricity production, given the shortages there. Currently, nuclear energy constitutes only 4% of total electricity production. Australia has a third of the total Uranium of the world. This agreement is going to make Uranium supply to India much easier.
As usual, and in a totally predictable manner, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has been critical of this development. I believe that the NPT issue is not relevant in India’s case after India was given an exemption by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2005. Also, unlike India’s neighbours, India has never been involved in nuclear proliferation.
India is in the middle of discussions for a civil nuclear trade with Japan. Once concluded, India should be able to accelerate nuclear energy production. Since 2005, India has entered into civil nuclear agreements with the US, Mongolia, Namibia, Argentina, the UK, Canada, Kazakhstan and South Korea, France and Russia.
The Indian community in Australia welcomes this development and the upswing in bilateral relations and trade between the two nations.
Published in The Indian Sun, Sydney