Australia wishes to export uranium to India "as soon as possible", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said today. Turnbull made his comments during an official visit to India.
|Turnbull and Modi make their statements (Image: Prime Minister of India)
India has an ambitious nuclear power program but few indigenous uranium resources, and could provide a significant market for Australian uranium. Australia is the world's third-largest producer of uranium behind Kazakshtan and Canada. All of its production - over 6000 tU in 2016 - is exported under strict controls to ensure that it is only for civilian use. Australia is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also requires any countries to which it sells uranium to put in place a rigorous bilateral safeguards treaty.
While India has an impeccable nuclear non-proliferation record it is not a signatory of the NPT, and was effectively isolated from world nuclear trade until 2008, when it signed a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group subsequently agreed to exempt the country from rules prohibiting trade with non-members of the NPT, opening the door to the possibility of nuclear trade with India. Since then, India has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with several countries.
A bilateral agreement between Australia and India for the supply of uranium was signed in 2014, and came into force in November 2015, although Australia's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) recommended that uranium sales should begin only after conditions concerning India's nuclear regulatory regime, routine inspections and reactor decommissioning plans were fulfilled. A bill on Civil Nuclear Transfers to India was passed by both Australian houses in November 2016.
Welcoming Turnbull on his first visit to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the passage of Australian legislation meant the country was now able to export uranium to India. Responding to Modi's welcome, Turnbull said: "We've worked closely with India to meet our respective requirements for the provision of fuel for India's civil nuclear program, and we look forward to the first export of Australian uranium to India as soon as possible."
Turnbull said the trading relationship between the two countries was delivering significant benefits to both nations, with two-way trade in goods and services worth nearly AUD20 billion ($15 billion) in 2016. This was "a fraction of the level it could and should be," he said.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News