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India nuclear tests should prompt nuclear deal review.

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Robert McClelland MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Federal Member for Barton

15 August 2007


New statements by the Indian Government that the US-India nuclear cooperation deal would not affect their plans to test nuclear weapons should prompt the Howard Government to immediately review their pending decision to allow the sale of Australian uranium to India.

The US State Department has now made clear that the US-India agreement is off if India do go ahead with a nuclear weapons test.

In this light the Foreign Minister must immediately make clear whether the Howard Government are prepared to take their proposed nuclear deal off the table if India conducts nuclear weapons tests.

Supplying Australian uranium to India for so-called civilian purposes will obviously free up other supplies of uranium they have at their disposal for weapons use.

This is why Mr Downer is deluding himself when he says as he did earlier this week that:

“I don’t think there is a risk… I think the reverse in fact is the case… I think that creates a safer and more secure environment.”

The Howard Government can’t escape the simple reality that the more uranium is exported to a country which sits outside the non proliferation regime the greater the risk of nuclear material falling into the wrong hands.

This is why Labor does not support the sale of uranium to a non signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Given any proposed deal with India will not apply to some of its crucial nuclear facilities - in addition to bypassing the NPT - the Howard Government will also be ignoring our obligations under Article 4 South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty requires Australia to:

(a) not to provide source or special fissionable material, or equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material for peaceful purposes to: (i) any non-nuclear weapon State unless subject to the safeguards

required by Article III.1 of the NPT.

The Indian Government won’t rule out nuclear testing and Australia has multiple international treaty obligations that the Government should uphold.

Labor say is the clearest terms the Howard Government are taking a calculated nuclear risk by allowing the sale of uranium to India and it’s a risk not worth taking.

Contact: Tom Cameron 0417 147 932