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Democrats force Downer to come clean on 'two minute' nuclear treaty.



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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Science and Information Technology

Press Release Dated: 27 Mar 2001 Press Release Number: 01/185A Portfolio: Science and Information Technology

Related: Uranium

Democrats force Downer to come clean on 'Two Minute' Nuclear Treaty The Federal Government has been forced to come clean about an agreement with Argentina on nuclear cooperation and safeguards in response to questions from Senator Natasha Stott Despoja

in the Senate today.

Following Senator Stott Despoja’s questioning on the existence of such an agreement, Foreign Affairs Minister Downer confirmed that he had initialled a Nuclear Cooperation and Safeguards Agreement with Argentina.

Senator Stott Despoja, Australian Democrats’ Science and Technology spokesperson, slammed the secrecy and haste of the agreement.

“The Government’s ‘two-minute’ treaty is further evidence that the Government’s nuclear waste management strategy is in disarray,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“On the 22 February, the DFAT First Assistant Secretary of the International Security Division, Bill Paterson, told a Senate Committee that negotiations on a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with Argentina would begin some time this year.

“Mr Paterson indicated the negotiations were expected to take 6 months, but barely a month later, Minister Downer has initialled the agreement.”

In the Senate today, Senator Stott Despoja challenged the Government to provide some answers.

“Why is this a two-minute treaty? Why has the treaty been rushed? Why didn’t it take six months of negotiation? What preparations have been made under the treaty for the sensitive matter of the handling of nuclear waste? Is

the Minister confident of the legitimacy of the agreement between Australia and Argentina in spite of the Argentine constitution? Has any serious public consultation been planned? Is it the poorly planned ANSTO replacement reactor proposal that is driving this acquisition of the treaty?”

Senator Stott Despoja also questioned the legal viability of the agreement between ANSTO and COGEMA.

“The current ban on unloading Australian nuclear waste in France because it is illegal under the French Radioactive Waste Management act (1991) casts new doubts on the legality of the licence with COGEMA,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

 

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