Skip to main content

Ex-IAEA chairman throws spanner on Aussie-India N-deal, says India could use enriched uranium for armaments

By Our Representative
Seeking to throwing a spanner on India-Australia nuclear deal for the supply of uranium, which was clinched during Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s India visit in September 2014, former chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ronald Walker, has “warned” the Aussie authorities that the agreement to sell uranium to India “drastically changes longstanding policy” on safeguards, and risks playing “fast and loose” with nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a hearing of the Australian parliamentary joint standing committee on treaties, Walker said, the deal differs “substantially” from Australia’s 23 other uranium export deals and “would do damage to the non-proliferation regime.” A former Australian diplomat, he said the Aussie Prime Minister “signed an agreement to make Australia a long-term, reliable supplier of uranium to India in Delhi, but the terms of the deal are yet to be endorsed by the committee.”
The British Guardian, reporting on the development, said, “Walker’s concerns were echoed by John Carlson, the head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (Asno) between 1989 and 2010, who had said earlier that proceeding with the agreement would be “inexcusable”. Its provisions meant Australian material “could be used to produce unsafeguarded plutonium that ends up in India’s nuclear weapon programme”, Carlson had said.
While the daily quotes a senior foreign affairs official in Australia defending the deal, arguing that India had “unique circumstances and any departures from standard agreements achieve the same policy outcomes but in different ways”, Walker insisted, there were “new wording on the question of whether India needed prior consent to enrich Australian uranium imports”, which he said was “open to the interpretation that Australia has given its consent in advance to high-level enrichment unconditionally”.
Pointing out that “highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear weapons, as well as to produce energy”, Walker, who has been a diplomat, said, in the treaty’s current form, “Australia does not claim and India does not acknowledge a right to withhold consent [to enrichment] and to withdraw consent if it is dissatisfied.” He warned, “You can’t play fast and loose with nuclear weapons.”
Pointing out that “the safeguards demanded of India were much less stringent than in similar deals Australia had struck with China, the US and Japan”, Walker said, “Along with Pakistan and North Korea, India was the only country still producing fissile material for nuclear weapons and was engaged in a nuclear arms buildup, at a time when others are reducing their arsenals” and “there is no justification to require less of India than our other partners.”
Walker further said any safety concessions by Australia would affect the broader non-proliferation system. “What Australia concedes on safeguards, Canada will find it difficult to try to maintain. If Canada and Australia fold in their safeguards negotiation with India, India’s negotiating position against the Americans is improved”, he said.
Contradicting Walker, the current director-general of Asno, Robert Floyd, defended the treaty at a hearing saying, neither Australia nor India viewed the terms of the treaty as allowing Delhi to enrich uranium unconditionally. Consent to enrich had merely been granted in advance under strict circumstances to guarantee stability for India’s nuclear fuel cycle. Besides, India was subject to IAEA inspections at a greater “frequency and intensity” than countries that had signed up to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

India's "welcome" proposal to impose sin tax on aerated drinks is part of to fight growing sugar consumption

By Amit Srivastava* A proposal to tax sugar sweetened beverages like tobacco in India has been welcomed by public health advocates. The proposal to increase sin taxes on aerated drinks is part of the recommendations made by India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian on the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in the parliament of India.

Why it's only Modi ki guarantee, not BJP's, and how Varanasi has seen it up-close

"Development" along Ganga By Rosamma Thomas*  I was in Varanasi in this April, days before polling began for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are huge billboards advertising the Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The only image on all these large hoardings is of the PM, against a saffron background. It is as if the very person of Modi is what his party wishes to showcase.