India, Australia to hold 2nd round of talks on nuclear deal

India and Australia will hold their second round of discussions on uranium sale in July-end.

New Delhi: India and Australia will hold their second round of discussions on uranium sale in July-end, three months after they launched negotiations for a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Noting that ultimately it was up to the companies to finalise the commercial details of sale of uranium, Australian High Commissioner to India Patrick Suckling said the effort during the negotiations was to put in place an effective safeguard mechanism to ensure that the Australian uranium was used for peaceful purposes.

"The second round will happen in month-end. The first one had happened in March when the negotiations started very well, very constructive... That is the spirit in which they will continue," he said.

Asked when can India expect the first consignment of the yellow cake, he said, "That is up to the companies to make the decision but what we are trying to do is to put in place a framework to enable the (Australian) companies to be able to make that decision (to sell uranium to Indian companies)."

"It would be effectively an agreement to ensure that any Australian uranium sold to India is for peaceful purpose with appropriate safeguards in place to show that that happens under the auspices of the IAEA."

"Yes, we will be consistent with most international agreement and also consistent with agreements we have with other countries on uranium sale," he said when asked if the Indo-Australia deal would be broadly on the lines of Indo-US nuclear agreement.

In December 2011, Australia decided to reverse its ban to sell uranium to India after the ruling Labour Party`s (ALP) national conference in Sydney favoured the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard`s move to open up uranium sale despite India being a non-signatory to the NPT. The decision came after a passionate discussion on the issue, with 206 members voting in favour and 185 against.

Last month, she had said the progress on uranium sale to India was moving on expected lines and discussions were underway between the two sides to put a safeguards agreement in place. However, it is assumed that the actual sale could take at least two years to start.

Australia, which holds about a third of the world`s recoverable uranium resources, has made it clear that it involves International Atomic Energy Agency to oversee its uranium negotiations.


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