On Tuesday, 15 November 2011, Australian Prime Minister Julia
Gillard outlined an intention to lift the ban on uranium exports to
Australia boasts the world's largest reserves of uranium,
with approximately 27 percent of the world's reasonably assured
uranium resources. Unsurprisingly, Australia, as one of the
world's highest uranium producers (behind Kazakhstan and
Canada), currently exports to a variety of countries including
China and Japan.
Historically, India (amongst other nations) has remained off the
list of eligible export countries because India refuses to be
signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT). In the
past, the requirement for the purchasing nation to be a signatory
of the NNPT was not negotiable. However, the current Australian
Government has indicated an intention, in these particular
circumstances, to remove the requirement for a commitment to the
NNPT and allow India purchasing rights.
Reportedly, this policy reversal is aimed at improving
diplomatic relations between Australia and India and is an effort
to ensure that Australian uranium industry remains competitive.
It is likely that Australia will only provide the uranium to
India's growing nuclear power industry and in accordance with
Australia's policies, will require assurances from the
Indian government to ensure that the uranium is only used for
In the event that the new Labor Party platform is adopted and
approved by the Australian Government, it is likely that a
bilateral agreement will be entered into between Australia and
India, to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are adopted.
Notably, the current uranium exports policy allows Australia to
retain the right to be selective as to the countries with which it
is prepared to conclude safeguard arrangements.
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