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US-India civil nuclear initiative.



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Media contact: Malcolm Cole (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 Angus Mackenzie (Departmental) 02 6261 1555 www.dfat.gov.au

MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA 093 31 July 2007

US-INDIA CIVIL NUCLEAR INITIATIVE

I welcome the recent announcement that the United States and India have successfully completed negotiations on the text of a bilateral civil nuclear agreement.

This very positive and historic development paves the way for a strengthened strategic partnership between these two countries, which is very much in Australia’s interest.

The agreement marks a milestone in taking forward the landmark US-India civil nuclear initiative which will have important non-proliferation and environmental benefits.

India - soon to be the world’s largest country - will be in a greater position to increase its use of nuclear power to pursue economic development and assist in the fight against global climate change.

India’s commitment to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities enabling expansion of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards will help to bring India more fully into the non-proliferation mainstream. Australia shares the goal of engaging with India as a constructive and responsible partner in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The US-India initiative also includes commitments by India to continue its nuclear testing moratorium, work on conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and adhere to Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) standards. It is in the international community's interests to ensure all states abide by international non-proliferation standards, particularly those with advanced nuclear technology such as India.

The steps which need to take place before the initiative can take effect - including negotiation of new safeguard arrangements between India and the IAEA, and agreement by the 45 member states of the NSG to enable civil nuclear supply to India - will ensure the initiative has broad international support.

The relationship between Australia and India has never been stronger - as economic partners and on security and strategic issues Australia and India are collaborating at a level not seen before. Australian exports already contribute significantly to India’s economic growth. India is a rising power in Australia’s region, and globally, and Australia will continue to deepen its engagement with India.