Skip to main content

"Setback" to India's N-dream: Australian Parliament committee talks of "significant risks" in supplying uranium

A uranium mine in South Australia
By Our Representative
In a setback to India, a new report by the Australian Parliament’s treaties committee has said that there are “some significant risks” in selling uranium to India. India sealed an agreement for the supply of uranium for “peaceful uses of nuclear energy” during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia in September 2014.
The just-released report wants the Australian government to commence selling uranium to India only when India achieves “full separation of civil and military nuclear facilities as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)”, with India establishing “an independent nuclear regulatory authority under law”, and this regulator is ensured complete “independence”.
The setback comes a week after Australian Minister of Defence Kevin Andrews met Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi on September 2, 2015.
The report, prepared under the chairmanship of Liberal MP Wyatt Roy, talks of “three areas of risk associated with the agreement”, to quote Roy. According to him, the first is the risk to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), to which India is “not a signatory”. In fact, according to him, India “exists in isolation from the nuclear nonproliferation mainstream.”
Wanting the Australian government to “engage in diplomatic effort” to produce a “genuine non-proliferation”, Roy, however, believes, as of today “it is not realistic to expect India to renounce the manufacture of nuclear weapons and dismantle its nuclear arsenal”, as the country “borders two other nuclear weapons states with which it is occasionally in conflict.”
“The second area of risk”, according to Roy, relates to “the regulation of India’s nuclear facilities”. Here, he says, “Both the Auditor-General of India and the International Atomic Energy Commission have identified a number of weaknesses in the regulatory framework that jeopardise nuclear safety and security.”
Given this framework, Roy says, the committee under him “has made a recommendation that the sale of uranium to India only commence when these weaknesses have been addressed.”
And the third risk, says Roy, relates to “two unresolved issues relating to the provisions of the Agreement”, especially the “the terminology used in the consent mechanism for the refinement of nuclear materials, and the question of whether the proposed Agreement breaches the Treaty of Rarotonga.”
The “risks” have be referred to alongside the report suggesting that it would make good business sense to sell uranium to India. It insists, Australia possesses 30 per cent of the known global reserves of uranium ore and the agreement with the Government of India “can double the size of Australia’s nuclear mining sector”, with Australian export income could “add up to $1.75b to the Australian economy”.
Meanwhile, the Australian Greens have said the agreement was putting “short-term political expedience above global security”. In their comment on the report, they have underlined, “As such, the Australian Greens cannot support this agreement and urge others to do likewise.”
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has asked the Australian government to ensure that all safeguards are in place before the treaty is ratified. “It is disingenuous for the committee to recommend ratification while simultaneously acknowledging the substantial deficiencies that must be addressed before the agreement can be acted on,” it said in a statement.
Says Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the report’s claims that the uranium mining industry will double as a result of the potential deal “do not stack up... Australian uranium production in 2014 was the lowest for 16 years. Uranium provides less than 0.2% of national export revenue and 0.02% of Australian jobs.”

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Govt of India seeks to 'subvert' autonomy of adjudicating authorities: RTI amendment

Counterview Desk
India's independent Right to Information watchdog, The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has said that the Government of India’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act to empower the Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners at the Centre and States “seriously undermine” the law.