Australian PM Tony Abbott supports uranium deal with India
Ahead of his visit to India, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today strongly supported sealing of the much-awaited uranium export deal with the country under "suitable safeguards".
Melbourne: Ahead of his visit to India, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today strongly supported sealing of the much-awaited uranium export deal with the country under "suitable safeguards".
"I make the point if we are prepared to sell uranium to Russia, and we've been prepared to do that in the past, surely we ought to be prepared to provide uranium to India under suitable safeguards," Abbott said.
"India is a full functioning democracy with the rule of law," he said, adding that his government was working with India to put suitable safeguards in place.
He said Australia should be prepared to provide "support" and that is what his upcoming visit would be all about.
Abbott will arrive in Delhi on September 4 to further strengthen the strategic partnership and promote trade and investment between the two countries.
Earlier, Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who will accompany Abbott on his India visit, said, "We have satisfied ourselves that the steps are in place."
Media reports recently said the two sides have reached the deal on the civil nuclear agreement, which will be formally signed by Prime Minister Abbott during his visit.
The negotiations between the two sides have been on since 2012 after Labor party reversed its decision to ban the uranium sale to India because New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"The negotiations and work that's gone on between authorities in India and Australia have gone on for some years to develop a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement which meets the international requirements and we are satisfied, our officials are satisfied that all the requirements have been met," Robb said in a radio interview to ABC channel.
"And we are in a position, if that's what comes about with the Prime Minister's visit, to sign such a cooperation agreement," he said.
Australia holds about a third of the world's recoverable uranium resources, and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes a year.
Energy-starved India is looking to nuclear power to supplement its existing options to fuel economic growth.
India has already concluded civil nuclear cooperation agreements with countries like Argentina and Kazakhstan.
Last week, Abbott had said he will visit New Delhi and Mumbai to strengthen the strategic partnership with India under the new government.
Australia and India have strong and growing economic and trade ties. India is Australia's fifth largest export market, with total exports of 11.4 billion dollars, and there is potential for further cooperation in resources, science, technology and education.
Two years back, then prime minister Julia Gillard on her visit to India had announced that the two countries would begin negotiations for a nuclear safeguards agreement.