No timeframe for Indo-Aus nuclear pact: Oz diplomat

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 15:56

Hyderabad: No timeframe can be determined on the conclusion of negotiations for the proposed civil nuclear agreement between India and Australia, a senior diplomat from that country said here.

Lachlan Strahan, Deputy Head of Mission at Australian High Commission in New Delhi, said, "a clear picture on the future course of direction emerges only after the first round of talks between the senior officials of both the governments scheduled to take place next month."

"We cannot give you the timeframe when negotiations will be completed. But its also important to bear in mind that the agreement will establish the legal framework which will allow sales to take place."

"The first meeting will give some sense of road ahead. Then we work diligently to get the agreement resolved and in place," Strahan said during his recent visit to Hyderabad.

Recently, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Australian counterpart Bob Carr, after a 90-minute bilateral talk, agreed to hold the first round of negotiations on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in March in Delhi.

In December 2011, Julia Gillard`s Labour Party had overturned its long-standing ban on exporting uranium to India. The country did not sell uranium to India because it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Following the Federal Government`s decision, Queensland`s local government has formed a committee on resuming uranium mining in the province.
Based on known uranium deposits in Queensland, it is estimated that there are more than 100,000 tonnes of uranium oxide. By comparison, Australia`s exports of uranium in 2011-12 reached a total of 7,529 tonnes.

Recommencement of uranium mining will contribute to the Queensland Government`s commitment to establish a four-pillar economy. It will strengthen the resources industry and promote the state`s attractiveness for exploration, a recent Queensland official release claimed.

"Once the agreement is ratified and comes into force we have the legal frame work in place and the market and companies can have discussions for supply contracts," Strahan added.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 15:56

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