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Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Page: 2370

Uranium Mining

(Question No. 335)


Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 6 December 2010:

In regard to the potential sale of Australian uranium to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) states:

(1) Has the department or the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) undertaken any consideration or prepared any advice since 2007 on the potential sale of Australian uranium to states that do not observe the NPT; if so, what has been the cost of that work.

(2) With reference to the potential sale of Australian uranium to India, does the department or ASNO identify any of the following as a potential barrier:

(a) NPT signatory and ratification status;

(b) Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ratification status;

(c) the claimed right to renew nuclear weapons testing;

(d) the continued production of fissile materials for military programs;

(e) the ongoing nuclear weapons 'arms race' between India and Pakistan;

(f) regional instability; and

(g) the potential for terrorism in India, including terrorist acts committed in India or terrorist acts potentially committed by Indian nationals, and against Indian nuclear facilities, including reactors.

(3) What other, if any, potential barriers does the department and ASNO identify to the potential sale of Australian uranium to India.


Senator Conroy: The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Australian Government policy is that uranium is supplied only to countries which are parties to the NPT, have an Additional Protocol with the IAEA and with which Australia has a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement. The department, including ASNO, in the normal course of its work has considered and prepared advice on the implications of this policy. There is no separate costing.

(2) Government policy excludes the sale of Australian uranium to countries which are not parties to the NPT, including India. Given this actual barrier, the department has seen no reason to identify other potential barriers.

(3) Australian uranium may only be exported for peaceful non-explosive purposes under bilateral safeguards agreements. Australia retains the right to be selective as to the countries with which it is prepared to conclude such agreements. Following any in-principle decision by the Government to sell uranium to another country, the department would initiate negotiation of a bilateral safeguards agreement with that country. The export of uranium could not commence until such an agreement was concluded.