But anti-nuclear sentiment is growing fast, writes Asia Sentinel’s Siddarth Srivastava
Australia’s ruling Labor Party has voted to reverse a decades-old ban on uranium sale to India — just at a time when anti-nuclear feeling is rising fast across India in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima earthquake nuclear disaster last March.
Backing the move to enable the two countries to trade in the crucial nuclear fuel, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said “it was not rational to sell uranium to China but not India, the world’s largest democracy.”
In a statement India’s foreign minister S M Krishna welcomed the decision as well. Canberra has refused to supply uranium to India as it is a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite the prospects of losing out a huge multi-billion dollar market.
Australia, the world’s third largest uranium producer, sells atomic fuel to China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. However, Australia has balked despite blandishments from Delhi that India has a record as a “responsible nation” despite being outside the NPT.
India strongly believes that the nonproliferation treaty is skewed in favor of nations that already possess nuclear weapons.
Explaining his country’s changed stand, Australia’s defense minister Stephen Smith, on a visit to India last week, highlighted India’s civil nuclear agreement with the US in 2005, which was approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency.