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Australia, India strike uranium agreement

Staff Reporter 8/18/2014 |
Australia and India are believed to have struck a deal on uranium exports.
The two countries have been negotiating so-called “safeguards” since 2012, when Julia Gillard’s government overturned a ban on selling uranium to India.
The decision was controversial because India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The ABC has learned that agreement has now been reached, with Indian officials convincing their Australian counterparts that the uranium will not end up in nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is planning to visit India early next month to formally sign the agreement. Australia controls nearly one-third of the world’s uranium reserves.
Sources have told the ABC the negotiations have been concluded relatively quickly compared to India’s dealings with other exporters.
India first tested a nuclear device back in 1974, and is estimated to have almost 100 nuclear weapons.
It has significant civilian programme, with 20 nuclear power stations currently supplying just under 4% of the nation’s electricity.
India and its neighbour Pakistan, which is nuclear-armed, have been engaged in a long-running stand-off over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
However, the prime ministers of both countries have recently expressed a willingness to begin a new era of co-operation. Pakistan is reportedly in talks with the Chinese government to acquire three large nuclear power plants.
Opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said Labor welcomed the development.
“The Labor Party set up, when we were in office, the circumstances where by which this could happen,” he said. – ABC

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