Melbourne: The Australian government has reaffirmed its intention not to sell uranium to India even as it maintains diplomatic niceties by welcoming the decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to end a three-decade long embargo on nuclear trade with India. An Australian government official said that the Labour party welcomed the decision by the NSG as strengthening the global security of nuclear facilities.
The Labour party is currently in power, with Kevin Rudd as prime minister. It swept into power after defeating long time incumbents, the conservative-Liberal-National Party coalition.
"However, Labor is committed to supplying uranium to only those countries party to the NPT. Australia will therefore not be supplying uranium to India while it is not a member of the NPT," Australian trade minister Simon Crean was quoted as saying in a newspaper report in The Australian on Monday.
The government's position has come under attack, however, by opposition members of parliament, which claim that Labour's policy was hypocritical and that next week's visit to India by the foreign minister should also be the right time for an announcement of a change in its uranium policy.
"Foreign minister Stephen Smith should use next week's visit to India to announce a new uranium export policy for New Delhi," Opposition foreign affairs spokesman, Andrew Robb, said on Sunday.
According to Robb, Canberra needed to support India in efforts to produce greenhouse gas-free electricity. "One of the first foreign policy acts of the Rudd government was to renege on a decision by the Howard government to help India supply greenhouse gas-free electricity to its growing population by providing uranium under an agreement being negotiated between the US and India," he said.
"Since that time, the Rudd Government has been humiliated into supporting the US-India agreement at meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the NSG which effectively condoned the sale of uranium to India by other countries around the world," he added.