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Uranium sale to India won't start automatically: Rudd

world Updated: Nov 28, 2011 14:04 IST
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Uranium sale to India "would not start automatically" after the Labour government's reversal of a ban against its export to the country, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said on Monday.

Stating that the policy change was aimed at cultivating good ties with the rising Asian power, Rudd added that it "won't automatically translate into a beginning of sales," according to Australian news agency AAP reported today.

"India will first have to make strong commitments under a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement," he said.

"I take my non-proliferation responsibilities deadly seriously," he said.

"This will require fundamental commitments from the Indian government in a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement with Australia of an identical type that we have with the 20 other countries to whom we export uranium at present."

Rudd said he would be taking a "hard line" as Australia's principle negotiator on any such agreement.

He said India currently had no "crushing need" for Australian uranium but rather the policy change was aimed at cultivating good relations with the rising Asian power.

"The strategic relationship with India for the decade ahead is of great important to our national interests."

Meanwhile, Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said Rudd's comments made Gillard's announcement even more extraordinary.

"If Kevin Rudd is the principle negotiator for uranium sales to India why was he not included in any discussion prior to the prime minister making her announcement?" Bishop said.