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Minister Downer paves way for Aust to rip up nuclear weapons treaty.

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Senator Christine Milne

Minister Downer paves way for Aust to rip up nuclear weapons treaty

Senator Milne, Tuesday, 26 September 2006

The Australian Greens today warned that the Howard government would be responsible for feeding regional instability and a nuclear arms race if it agreed to sell uranium to India.

Greens energy spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is following Prime Minister John Howard in preparing the way for Australia to rip up the global treaty aimed at ending the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"Foreign Minister Downer's comments today indicate that the Australian government is paving the way to abandon its policy of not selling uranium to India because of its poor track record on nuclear weapons and refusal to be part of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," Senator Milne said in Hobart.

"Minister Downer says the inspection arrangements that form part of the US deal to sell nuclear technology to India, which the US Congress is considering this week, may be a suitable substitute for the NPT, thereby allowing Australia to abandon its policy commitment to the NPT.

"These are weasel words. The proposed inspection regime for the US-India deal will place India's military reactors off limits, giving tacit approval for business as usual away from international scrutiny.

"The government cannot hide behind the excuse of helping India deal with climate change. The European experience this summer, when nuclear reactors had to be shut down because of high temperatures and water shortages, demonstrates that climate change makes nuclear power untenable.

"It is hard to understand why, at a time of rapidly diminishing global security and escalating nuclear proliferation, including in the Middle East, this government would abandon support for the nuclear NPT.

"Australia should be helping India meet its energy needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy such as solar power."

Contact: Katrina Willis 03 6234 4566 or 0437 587 562