Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is seeking to overturn a ban on Australian uranium exports to India: “Selling uranium to India will be good for the Australian economy and good for Australian jobs.” Australia, holder of the biggest known uranium reserves, has a long standing policy of not exporting uranium to India, because it hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Over the next couple of weeks as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) national conference is getting closer, we are going to hear a lot about uranium sales to India. Prime Minister Gillard and others within the Labor Party are on a mission to overturn Labor’s long-standing opposition to selling uranium to India. One Labor Senator has declared that if the ban gets overturned then ALP will be “selling out everything we’ve stood for as a party for the last 40 years”. The debate is heating up and members of the Labor left are ready to fiercely oppose this change in policy at the National Conference.
On November 16, any organizations and individuals from Australia and India signed onto a letter urging Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Resources Minister Ferguson, Foreign Minister Rudd and some senators, to reconsider plans to export uranium to India. Many nuclear disarmament organizations are strongly opposed to India's being able to import Australian uranium, as this will inevitably contribute to a nuclear arms race in the Indian subcontinent.
India has a limited quantity of unsafeguarded uranium of its own that can be set aside and used for nuclear weapons purposes.
There has been speculation over the last couple of decades that India would be unable, without importing uranium, to be able to sustain both the ambitious civil nuclear power program it has, and to keep up with Pakistan's aggressive nuclear weapons program, a program that is set to soon exceed, in warhead numbers, that of the UK.
We would like to remind you that back in December 2002-January 2003, Indian and Pakistani military faced each other across the 'line of control' and that the worlds number one wire story was 'India, Pak, move nukes to line of control'.
At that point the large-scale use of nuclear weapons between India and Pakistan was very much on the agenda. We note that on the very day on which you made your announcement, India conducted a successful test of its nuclear-capable Agni-IV (Agni-II Prime) missile.
This is surely not a sign of a subcontinent that is moving in a peaceful direction.
Authoritative, peer-reviewed scientific studies have recently predicted that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would create catastrophic changes in global climate and massive destruction of Earth's protective ozone layer. This would lead to the coldest average weather conditions in the last 1000 years and greatly increase the amount of harmful UV-B light reaching both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Consequently, these long-term environmental consequences would significantly decrease global agricultural production and lead to global nuclear famine.
Selling uranium to India will involve radical alterations to Australia's long-standing (and till recently bipartisan) nuclear nonproliferation policy, according to which Australia will sell uranium only to signatories of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). India is not and cannot be, an NPT signatory due to its significant nuclear weapons program (and therefore cannot sign the additional protocol to the NPT which presumes NPT signatory status).
The undersigned organizations therefore urge the Australian government to retain Australia's long standing and correct policy of not exporting to India.
Leave uranium in the ground! (It's not as radical an idea as it might sound).
Uranium accounts for a paltry 0.3 per cent of Australian export revenue and 0.03 per cent of Australian jobs. Few would notice if the industry vanished and still fewer would miss it. Uranium sales to India would do very little to expand Australia’s export revenue. If Australia supplied one-fifth of India’s current demand, uranium exports would increase by a measly 1.8 per cent. Even if all reactors under construction or planned in India come on line, Australia’s uranium exports would increase by just 10 per cent.
The Age, November 1, 2010 / Jim Green, Abc.net, November 18, 2011
Source: Bloomberg, 15 November 2011 / John Hallam (Letter coordinator), 16 November 2011
Contact: John Hallam, People for Nuclear Disarmament NSW Nuclear Flashpoints, Surry Hills Sydney NSW, Australia.