Ferguson denies secret uranium talks with India

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Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has denied he is in secret talks to sell Australian uranium to India.

According to The Age a confidential briefing note to Ferguson in February says Australia and India have already begun a “dialogue” over a potential sale.

According to the note the opened dialogue will prove useful if Labor decides to scrap its opposition to selling India uranium at its national conference in December.

“The dialogue could be elevated in the future as conditions allow agreement on exporting uranium to India,” it said.

According to The Age Ferguson will be pushing to “modernise” Labor’s uranium policy at the national conference.

Earlier this year he declared India had a “very, very good history of nuclear non-proliferation”.

Australia is presently among the top three sellers of world uranium, with over 20 per cent of the world’s reserves still in the ground.

Current uranium sales are subject to strict controls under agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Australia.

Under current law any buyer of Australian uranium must also be part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  

India is currently a nuclear armed nation but is not a signatory of the NPT.

Greens nuclear spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said Ferguson should give-up on his push to sell uranium to India.

“At the ALP conference in December Minister Ferguson will likely attempt to kill Labor’s opposition to uranium sales to non-signatory countries,” he said.

“… there is a danger the Government will yield to one man’s nuclear obsession…”

A spokesperson for Ferguson told ABC News suggestions Australia was looking to sell uranium to India were incorrect.

They said the dialogue was about selling resources and energy but not uranium.

Yesterday Ferguson told The Age the Government was sticking by its plans not to sell.

“The policy of the Australian Government is clear – we will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the NPT and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia,” he said.

Previous WikiLeaks cables have asserted that Ferguson told the United States embassy in Canberra that a deal to supply India with uranium could be reached within three to five years.

Image: WA Today

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