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hustling uranium « Previous | |Next »
August 18, 2007

It now looks as if Australia under the Howard Government is willing to sell uranium to anybody the US Bush administration approves of. It's business ---wealth creation---and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is of little or no concern or relevance.

Bill Leak

Rudd to his credit is willing to say no to Australia selling uranium to nations outside of, and who have not signed, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India says that it retains the right to conduct nuclear texts. For the Indian Right India's independence is of primary concern and that means less restrictions on its nuclear programme the better. So we have the possibility of India contributing to a nuclear arms race in the region.

So why sell uranium to India?

Australia falls into lockstep with the global strategy of Republican Washington as always. Under the US deal, India gets access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel, without having to give up its nuclear-weapons program. It is even allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, though under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India has also pledged not to pass on any US technology or materials to third parties. Many on the Right in India claim that this deal will give the US too much leverage over Indian policy.

Ashton Carter, an assistant secretary of defense in the Bill Clinton administration and now a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, defended the deal in the July/August 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs, writing:

Washington gave something away on the nuclear front in order to gain much more on other fronts; it hoped to win the support and cooperation of India - a strategically located democratic country of growing economic importance - to help the United States confront the challenges that a threatening Iran, a turbulent Pakistan, and an unpredictable China may pose in the future. Washington's decision to trade a nuclear-recognition quid for a strategic-partnership quo was a reasonable move.

That is the strategic reason for the closer US ties to India. Howard and Downer fall into line and echo that position.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:13 PM | | Comments (3)


I've been waiting for you to say something about this Gary.

I thought the US was wary of India's nuclear doings but apparently that was wrong. It makes sense I guess - India on one side, Japan on the other and Pakistan and China somewhere in the middle.

What about Russia? Putin has been raising his middle finger at Washington a fair bit lately, so why would we be thinking about selling them uranium?

I have written on it before, way back, when it was first mooted by Bush and the Washington neo-cons.

I am suprised by the lack of commentary in the mainstream media about this, given the volatility of the region and Australia's friendliness to, and reliance on, China and the fact that the nuclear non-proliferation treaty doesn't figure here at all.

A squeaky clean, Christian conservative cyborg Rudd (that's the image being presented isn't it?) is doing the right thing. Taking a stand on an important issue for once.

Russia, another market just opened for business by the Howard government, supports the treaty

there is an op-ed in The Age by Andy Butfoy on this. He talks about Downer's turn around on the nuclear issue:

In the 1990s Australia, more than any other country, was responsible for getting near universal backing for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty — despite strong opposition from India. The Labor and Liberal governments of the time had much to be proud of as the CTBT was widely seen as the key next step in reinforcing the NPT. In 1998 Downer said: "The pivotal role we played in the negotiation and adoption of the CTBT is a reflection of our commitment to the global nuclear non-proliferation … regime. This regime is central to our national security."

Downer talks in terms of the CTBT providing a codified international benchmark against which the actions of individual members of the international community--including India---can be judged.