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Australia not to sell uranium to India

world Updated: May 23, 2007 13:53 IST

Australia will not sell uranium to India until it signs the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane has said.

The Minister's remarks were in contrast to the recent hints from Prime Minister John Howard that Australia could shift its policy and allow yellowcake to be exported to India.

"The answer is no," Macfarlane said adding "the Australian uranium industry can prosper without India, that's my answer."

"We have a prohibition on the basis that they have not signed the NPT," he told The Age newspaper.

As recently as March, Howard appeared to leave open the prospect of Australian uranium sales to India.

Speaking during a visit by India's nuclear envoy Shyam Saran, the prime minister said, "We see India as a very responsible country. The relationship between Australia and India is growing. It's a very important relationship. They will be considerations that we will bear in mind."

Asked about the steps the government is taking towards a framework for nuclear power in Australia, Macfarlane said companies, which he declined to name, have already approached him to discuss commercial opportunities to enrich uranium in Australia.

Macfarlane warned that Australia could not go down the nuclear route unless there was clear bipartisan support and the public accepted nuclear energy.