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Julia Gillard is set to drive a move to reverse ALP policy and overturn a 30-year ban on selling uranium to India.
Today Gillard said it was not in Australia’s best interests to be the only country denying uranium trade to India
She said she would use the ALP national conference next month to argue the case for a policy reversal.
In a Fairfax opinion piece today Gillard said it was time Australia moved to “strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India”.
The move is likely to be fiercely opposed by Labor’s left and the Greens, which oppose uranium sales to India because the country is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
If Gillard is successful in overturning the ban it will be a potential boon to the uranium states of South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.
Gillard’s announcement follows rumours that surfaced in October federal resources minister Martin Ferguson had already been in secret talks to sell uranium to India.
Earlier this year Ferguson said India had a “very, very good history of nuclear non-proliferation”.
After the rumours surfaced Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said Ferguson had a “nuclear obsession” and the ALP should not yield to it.
Yet in October Ferguson told The Age Labor would not back a move to sell uranium to India.
“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 asserted Ferguson had told the United States embassy in Canberra that a deal to secure a sale of uranium to India could be reached within five years.
Australia is currently among the top three producers of global uranium, and has up to 20 per cent of the world’s reserves still in the ground.
Current sales are subject to strict controls under agreements between Australia and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
India is currently a nuclear armed nation and not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty.