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Australia says no to uranium

Australia ruled out reveal of its policy of not to export uranium to India, which has not signed Non Proliferation Treaty, despite the NSG waiver for New Delhi's nuclear trade.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2008, 23:20 IST

Australia on Tuesday ruled out reveal of its policy of not to export uranium to India, which has not signed Non Proliferation Treaty, despite the NSG waiver for New Delhi's nuclear trade but expressed willingness to consider sharing dual-use technology on 'case-by-case' basis.

Canberra would consider "case-by-case" permitting dual-use technology to India, visiting Australian Foreign Minister Steven Smith told a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) interactive session in Chennai.

"As a participant of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Australia has a trigger list which forbids certain items of dual technology to be shared, especially in the field of nuclear energy. But if the dual-use technology is meant for some other capacity, such as the field of medicine, Australia may consider allowing it based on case-by-case," he said.

During the recent NSG meeting where India secured the waiver for international nuclear commerce, Australia played a positive and constructive role in the discussions, he said.

He ruled out Australia reviewing its uranium export policy, which prohibits sale of the nuclear material to any country that did not sign the NPT.

However, it was "not India-specific and was a long-standing policy," of his country, Smith said adding India succeeding at NSG would not influence Australia's position in this regard.

"Our policy has also been, and remains, not to supply any other item to non-NPT signatories for use in nuclear programmes. This position remains unaffected by the NSG decision. This also does not disturb Australia's ongoing approach to consider on a case-by-case basis applications for the export of dual use items,'he said.

A common sport and passion of the two countries, cricket came in handy for Smith to describe the bilateral relationshiop between the two countries in the last 25 years.

"Australia's mistake was that it treated the relationship like 20-20 cricket with occasional bursts of activity. We should have played it like test cricket with day-in-day-out activities, focussing on the nitty gritty of people-to-people relationship and other areas like economy and counter terrorism activities," Smith said.

An avid cricket fan representing the Perth electorate which houses Western Australian Cricket Association, Smith said former pace legend Dennis Lillee and batsmen Michael Hussey were some of the famous cricketing names of the region.

Stressing on relationships to flourish in important areas including military and economic ties, Smith called for more cooperation in these fields.

"Australian investments in India has continued to grow, passing the A$4 billion mark in 2007. There are tremendous opportunities for further businesses, especially in South India," he said. Bilateral trade is flourishing in the fields of mining, gold, alumina and iron ore and IT, he said.

"Our expanding economic ties could be further boosted by a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA)," he said adding the two countries had agreed to complete feasibility study in this regard by this year-end.

He said the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) played an important role in promoting trade and investment liberalisation in the region.

"Australia's strong view is that India should become a an APEC member when the membership moratorium ends in 2010.

"APEC also reinforces the US' engagement in our region, something Australia regards as essential," he said.

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