The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the finding by a government-controlled Parliamentary review that “Australian uranium not be sold to India” until unresolved safety, security, legal and nuclear weapons issues are addressed.
Today’s report by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) says while the federal government can ratify the deal, uranium must not be sold to India unless key checks and balances are put into action.
The report calls for evidence of improved safety, monitoring and regulatory standards, the establishment of an independent Indian nuclear regulator and full separation of the military and civil dimensions of India’s nuclear sector.
“The Committee’s position is clear: the government can sign but not sell,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“There are compelling reasons not to supply Australian uranium to India – especially at this time or on these terms.
“Australian uranium would definitely fuel radioactive waste and risk. It would also potentially fuel nuclear weapons and increase regional nuclear tension and rivalry.
“Australia certainly has a role in supporting India’s legitimate energy aspirations, but we won’t help India by retreating from responsibility on nuclear safeguards and security.
“Claims a sales deal could double Australia’s uranium industry do not stand scrutiny.
“In recent months Rio Tinto has moved away from further mining at Ranger in Kakadu and BHP Billiton has dismissed more than 350 workers at SA’s Olympic Dam operation.
“Australian uranium production in 2014 was the lowest for 16 years. Uranium provides less than 0.2 per cent of national export revenue and 0.02 per cent of Australian jobs.
“ACF urges the Abbott government to prioritise the Parliament, the public interest and Australia’s international reputation over favours and fast-tracking for the under-performing uranium sector.”