Government divided over uranium exports
The Federal Government is divided over the proposal of resuming uranium exports to India, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard announcing her support of the amendment.
Ms Gillard has argued that exports of uranium would be put to peaceful purposes, while broadening the Australian market, increasing jobs and contributing to bilateral relations with India.
"We must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export - strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and strong bilateral and transparency measures which will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes," Ms Gillard wrote in an opinion piece published in Fairfax media outlets.
Labor policy prohibits selling uranium to any country that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the move will face opposition from the ALP's Left faction.
India refuses to sign the treaty because it wants to retain the nuclear option to defend itself against nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan and China.
Ms Gillard’s support of the proposal has been echoed by South Australian Premier Jay Weathill, who’s state is the largest exporter of Uranium.
"South Australia is likely come an even bigger exporter," Mr Weatherill told The Australian
"The state is also keen to build on the strong relationship it has with India. Therefore it is clearly in SA's interests to support the proposition.”
The chief executive officer of the Australian Uranium Association, Michael Angwin, says his industry has not lobbied Labor on the issue.
"We think that the government of the day, the Australian government of the day, is in by far the best position to make a decision on the countries to whom we should export," he said.
"And we have confidence whoever is the government of the day will take into account all the matters that need to be taken into account when making decisions about to whom we export."
Mr Angwin says any new exports would be a significant boost to Australia.
"Australia's uranium exports vary between three quarters of a billion dollars and a billion dollars a year, and any country which has planned a large expansion in its nuclear industry, like India, would be a very significant customer for Australia," he said.