SYDNEY: Australia is satisfied with the safeguards India has in place to allow the export of uranium to the nuclear-armed nation, Trade Minister Andrew Robb said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to arrive in India on Thursday for his first visit to the country since assuming power a year ago and is expected to sign a deal clinching the export of uranium.
Work on an agreement has been under way for several years as Canberra attempts to strengthen ties with the fast-growing and energy-hungry South Asian country.
But because India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, any exports have to be accompanied by guarantees the uranium will only be used for non-military purposes.
Asked what steps had been taken to make sure there were appropriate safeguards, Robb told ABC radio: “We have satisfied ourselves that the steps are in place.
“The negotiations and work that’s gone on between authorities in India and Australia have gone on for some years to develop a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement which meets the international requirements and we are satisfied, our officials are satisfied, that all the requirements have been met,” he added.
“And we are in a position, if that’s what comes about with the prime minister’s visit, to sign such a cooperation agreement.”
Australia does not use nuclear power but it is the world’s third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada.
In 2012-13 it exported 8,391 tonnes valued at Aus$823 million (US$765 million), with the United States, European Union, and Japan major markets.