Australian PM Gillard determined to go ahead with uranium exports to India
Bali (Indonesia), Nov.19 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard seems bent on taking on all disbelievers in her country and going ahead with uranium exports to India.
Speaking to ANI on the sidelines of the 19th ASEAN Summit and the 6th East Asia Summit here, Gillard said: "I'm taking the change of policy to my party conference in December."
Earlier this week, Gillard had said that she would lobby the Australian Labor Party to change its stance on the export of uranium to India, despite India not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Gillard said that Australia could miss out on lucrative economic opportunities by shutting India out.
Gillard's stand won the support of United States President Barack Obama during his stopover in Australia this week on his way to the ASEAN summit.
"India is a big player and the Australia-India relationship is one that should be cultivated," Obama said in apparent support to Gillard's move to lift the ban on uranium exports to India.
Gillard is planning to overturn the long-standing party policy that allows uranium to be sold only to nations that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Senior Australian ministers, including Stephen Smith, Wayne Swan, Martin Ferguson and Kevin Rudd have backed the change, but Rudd has said that he was not consulted individually about the decision.Lawmakers from the Left have vowed to fight the decision at the ALP national conference to be held next month.
A senior minister, Anthony Albanese, was quoted by an Australian paper, as saying that he does not favour any change that would undermine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
''"I''m opposed to platform change on uranium. I support the existing platform. I don''t support any change which would undermine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," the paper quoted him, as saying.
Another MP, Gavin Marshall, pointed out that 'it is irresponsible to sell uranium to a nuclear-armed country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is also in regular conflict with another nuclear-armed power.'
"It defies logic to assist greedy mining companies to line their pockets at the expense of the country''s international standing," he added.
According to the report, the Left controls about 44 percent of the vote at the conference and with the Right supporting Gillard, the policy is likely to change.
Last week, Christopher Kremmer, co-convener of the Australia India Institute''s Perceptions Taskforce, said Australia's relationship with the world''s largest democracy (India), has for years been held to ransom by the ludicrous proposition that selling uranium to China is a right thing to do, but selling it to India would be dangerous and wrong.
Kremmer said the question is not about whether Australia sells uranium or not, it is about whom the nation sells it to.
He pointed out that China proliferates despite having signed the non-proliferation treaty, whereas India abides by the treaty, but is not a signatory.
He further said that India had not signed the NNPT, as doing so would require it to abandon its nuclear weapons.
And a nation, with more than a billion people to defend, and unresolved border disputes with China and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, would definitely be rejected by its people if it chooses to abandon its weapons.
According to Kremmer, opponents of Gillard's plan, some of the Left MPs, will point out that India can buy its uranium elsewhere.
Kremmer says it is absolutely true, but points out it is also true that for as long as Australia refuses to face the economic and moral realities of this issue, our political relationship with India, the world''s largest democracy, one of its largest economies and an important security player in our region, will remain stalled.
He further said that as Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, Iran and Israel kept busily working on their undeclared nuclear weapons programs, India''s decision to declare itself a nuclear weapons state in 1998 was the logical outcome of unsustainable moral posturing by hypocritical Western powers. By Smita Prakash (ANI)
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