Howard, Bush talk up nuclear energy


Electronic Media Monitoring Service 


05-09-2007 07:30 PM



Parl No.


Channel Name



05-09-2007 07:30 PM



05-09-2007 08:10 PM

Cover date

2007-09-05 19:30:09

Citation Id




O\'BRIEN, Kerry, (journalist, ABC)


BUSH, George W.



MILNE, Sen Christine

HOWARD, John, (former PM)



DOWNER, Alexander


Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online


Media Deleted


System Id


Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document

Howard, Bush talk up nuclear energy -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Howard, Bush talk up nuclear energy

Broadcast: 05/09/2007

Reporter: Matt Peacock

United States President George W Bush didn't waste time in demonstrating his desire to improve ties
with Australia. Just twelve hours after arriving in the country he announced agreements that would
allow Australia access to technology capable of driving a domestic nuclear power program, he signed
a treaty allowing Australia to buy classified military hardware from the US and he also agreed to
hold talks that would give the two countries closer defence links.


KERRY O'BRIEN: John Howard clearly believes there's still domestic value in his close relationship
with George W Bush, with lots of picture opportunities on the US President's first day of pre-APEC
functions, plus two hours of official talks.

There were two announcements. The first coming as no surprise, a new defence treaty that we'll take
a closer look at shortly. The second announcement was a little harder to read, politically at

The two leaders stood side by side in their enthusiasm for nuclear power as an answer to the
problems of climate change while also talking up an emission-free clean coal prototype power plant.
And Australia received a gilt-edged invitation to join an exclusive nuclear club proposed by
America, that would enrich uranium and lease it to client countries for civil nuclear energy and
then take the waste back.

The club is some way from becoming reality, but it poses some ticklish questions for Australia.

Matt Peacock reports.

MATT PEACOCK: It was a locked down Sydney as the real APEC action begins with the arrival of George

John Howard was ready and waiting.

JOHN HOWARD: Have our blokes arrived?

MATT PEACOCK: And waiting for the man he's backed all the way in Iraq and Kyoto.

Both have ridden high in the good times and both are now battling a public view that their time is

GEORGE BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Laura sends her very best and we congratulate you on your

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. (laughs)

MATT PEACOCK: But this is one grandfather who's keen to demonstrate age has not wearied him as he
hosts the biggest international summit Australia has ever known.

TIM HARCOURT, CHIEF ECONOMIST, AUSTRADE: We should be proud of our success and we should be proud
that in our country, the most important leaders on the planet at the moment are present.

MATT PEACOCK: Australia has placed global warming top of the list for this APEC's agenda, a move
that's prompted one Singaporean commentator to object that the 'E' in APEC is for 'economic', not

PETER CHARLTON: That's cynical isn't it, because economics and the environment, are absolutely
intertwined, inextricably.

MATT PEACOCK: Peter Charlton of the APEC Business Advisory Council says the region's business
leaders have focused on the challenges of climate change, but they need the certainty of emission
targets and timetables.

PETER CHARLTON: Business can't be expected to invest heavily if the goal posts change weekly,
daily, monthly or annually.

MATT PEACOCK: George Bush and John Howard, though, prefer 'aspirational targets' and they appear
keener to suggest nuclear power as the solution.

GEORGE BUSH: If you believe that greenhouse gases are a priority, like a lot of us, if you take the
issue seriously like I do and John does, then you should be supportive of nuclear power.

MATT PEACOCK: Australia today announced it had agreed on a nuclear energy action plan with the US,
one that gives it entry into the Bush administration's Global nuclear energy program, or GNEP, and
access to research on the next "Generation Four" nuclear power plants.

JOHN HOWARD: Australia intends to participate in the global nuclear energy partnership and there
will be great benefits in terms of access to nuclear technology and non-proliferation. The United
States will support Australian membership in the Generation for International Forum which involves
R and D to develop safer and better nuclear reactors.

MATT PEACOCK: GNEP proposes that countries that enrich uranium then lease nuclear fuel to other
countries, then take back their waste. That suggests Australia is about to start enriching its own
uranium. But not so, says Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, warning the US isn't convinced we
should be doing that, and the minister is even less keen on taking back other countries' waste.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN MINISTER: We won't agree to do that, and we've always made that clear,
we're not planning and we've never planned and we've never said we would, and we've always said we
wouldn't, take nuclear waste back to Australia. The plan is at this stage to convene a meeting in

STEVE SHALLHORN, CEO, GREENPEACE AUSTRALIA: Today's announcement is in fact a non-announcement. It
is two countries that have been avoiding their Kyoto responsibilities by refusing to ratify the
treaty and instead trying to take us down the nuclear route. The so-called generation four reactors
are at least two decades away, far too long to even be considered as part of the climate change mix
even if that was a legitimate response to climate change.

MATT PEACOCK: But Grigory Pasko, a Russian journalist who spent two and a half years in a Siberian
jail is in Sydney to warn Australians about another nuclear deal to be announced on Friday, this
time, selling Australia's uranium to Russia.

GRINGORY PASKO, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: The Russian authorities have already so often deceived both the
Russian people and the foreign community as well.

I honestly think its not a good idea to blindly trust them about something so serious.

MATT PEACOCK: It's believed the uranium would end up here, at Angarsk, an enrichment plant deep in
Siberia's pine forests, where one anti-nuclear activist was recently killed by thugs wielding metal

Russia says the uranium will be used for its civilian nuclear program, but Pasko warns that the
Putin Government cannot be trusted

GRIGORY PASKO: But who's going to monitor compliance with this understanding and whether or not
this understanding will be complied with? I don't think anybody would say they can guarantee that.

MATT PEACOCK: Greens senator Christine Milne agrees

CHRISTINE MILNE, SENATOR, AUSTRALIAN GREENS: The government is naïve in the extreme if it thinks
that Australian uranium going to Russia will be purely for civilian nuclear power. The Russians had
on the table before the US a proposal that Russia should become a nuclear fuel service centre for
the rest of the world. They've already proposed an enrichment facility where they'll take uranium,
enrich it and pass it on to other regimes. There's nothing to say they won't pass it on to Iran.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: All of these arguments really about India about Russia are just a cover for the
basic argument these people are making which is we don't want to export uranium. If you don't want
to export uranium people should say so, that's their position.

MATT PEACOCK: President Bush and Prime Minister Howard will be joined by President Putin on Friday
when the Russian nuclear deal is expected to be finalised.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Matt Peacock with that report.