Oz unmoved by India`s request on Uranium sale

Australia Thursday refused to concede to India`s repeated requests for revoking a ban on Uranium sale to it, saying Canberra remains steadfast on its policy of not selling the yellow metal to NPT non-signatories.

Updated: Jan 20, 2011, 13:40 PM IST

Melbourne: Australia Thursday refused to
concede to India`s repeated requests for revoking a ban on Uranium sale to it, saying Canberra remains steadfast on its policy of not selling the yellow metal to NPT non-signatories.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna raised the issue
of Uranium sale with Australia for a second day during his
meeting with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd but the
latter said his country`s stand remains unchanged.

He had yesterday taken up the issue with Australia`s
Resource, Energy and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson.

Rudd acknowledged India`s clean record on nuclear
proliferation, but maintained it was Australia`s national
policy to not sell the yellow metal to NPT non-signatories.

Rudd said "Australia fundamentally respects India`s
long standing credentials on the non-proliferation question".

Addressing a joint press conference here along with
the visiting Krishna, Rudd acknowledged that India has not
been responsible for a single act of nuclear weapons
proliferation anywhere in the world.

"Something which we place on record again as being our
views of India`s public policy posture and operational
behaviour for a very long period of time," he said.

Australia is unwilling to sell uranium to India
because it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty.

Rudd said the issue, however, has not damaged ties
between the countries.

"However, Australia`s stands on NPT remains. We
continue to discuss these matters as friends do," he said
emphasising on the strategic partnership that the two
countries shared.

"There is a huge amount underway in the Australia-
India relationship at the political, security and economic
levels... There`s sufficient ballast in this relationship to
deal with areas of periodic disagreement as there are in all
relationships," he said.

Commenting on the issue, Krishna said he has pleaded
with the Australian government to change the policy, stressing
that nuclear energy as a clean energy source was crucial to
the rising energy demands of India.

"If you have to have clean energy, then according to
India the only option is to have nuclear energy, and if you
have to have nuclear energy, then you certainly need uranium,"
he said.

On the question of the security of Indian students in
Australia, Rudd gave his full assurance to his counterpart.

He said as the Foreign Minister he takes the issue of
security of any guest including international students
`fundamentally and seriously`.

"I take the responsibility and that is our job," he
said after holding the seventh ministerial dialogue with
Krishna at a joint press conference here today.

"Any student from any part of the world who runs into
any security issue is one two many," Rudd said.

Appreciating the steps taken by the Australian
government, Krishna said Indian students were now feeling
confident and secure despite the fact that the number of
enrolments had dropped by almost half.

Krishna said when he visited the country in 2009 he
was carrying an "anguish and worry" in the backdrop of a
series of racial attacks on students in the country.

"But on this visit that worry is missing, that anguish
has disappeared," Krishna said.

"Indian students feel quite secure and feel quite
confident, and they feel they can pursue their studies without
any anxiety," he said.
He said though the drop in enrolment of Indian students has been given as 80 per cent, however according to
his understanding the drop was by 40 per cent.

On the economic ties between the two countries,
Krishna said a Free Trade Agreement joint feasibility study
was already complete and the trade imbalance with Australia
was the second largest that India had with any of its trading
partners.
He urged greater flexibility and requested early action
on issues that impacted on India`s exports to Australia.

Krishna also urged Australia to give consideration to
the situation of Indian students who had suffered after the
revision in skills criteria for permanent residency by the
government.

Rudd on his part highlighted that there were generous
transition arrangements for most holders of international
student visa programme announced last year and said Australian
residency to any new immigrant was never a full guarantee.

PTI