Australia puts uranium deal with India on back burner

Updated on Oct 17, 2007 08:32 AM IST

With India virtually putting on hold its civilian nuclear deal with US, Australia has decided to review its plans to sell uranium to New Delhi.

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PTI | By, Melbourne

With India virtually putting on hold its civilian nuclear deal with US, Australia has decided to review its plans to sell uranium to New Delhi.

Efforts for a US-India nuclear pact, which would open India to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, paved the way for Australia's uranium deal with India.

Following reports that the negotiations for operationalisation of the US-India pact appeared to have been stalled, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia would need to consult the Indian Government on the uranium deal with Delhi, The age reported today.

Lowy Institute international security director Rory Medcalf said there was "no way" he could see Australia selling uranium to India "unless the US-India deal is finalised".

The Opposition Labour party too reiterated its objection to the Federal Government's plan to sell uranium to India when its environment spokesman Peter Garrett said: "Deal or no deal between India and the US, Labour won't support the sale of uranium to a non-NPT signatory."

Medcalf said the US decision to work with India on nuclear issues triggered the Howard Government's policy change to also engage with India. "It was really only when the US turned around to accepting India's nuclear status, that most of the rest of the world could contemplate having a civilian nuclear relationship with India," he said.

Medcalf said that if Labour won the federal election, the impasse in talks regarding the Indo-US nuclear pact could "forestall any possible rift in Australian-India relationship" over Labour's pledge to abandon uranium sales.

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