Time for Australia to Modernise Its India Uranium Policy: Lowy Institute for International Policy Analyst

Nov 15, 2011, 08:08 ET from Lowy Institute for International Policy

SYDNEY, Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's public support for safeguarded uranium exports to India is 'welcome and overdue', says senior Lowy Institute researcher Rory Medcalf, a longstanding advocate of improved Australia-India relations.

"It is high time the Australian Labor Party developed a contemporary policy on allowing safeguarded uranium exports to help India produce much-needed electricity," Mr. Medcalf said today (15 November).

"With President Obama about to visit Australia, it is also right to be sending a signal that we recognise India as a vital and trusted part of a stable Indo-Pacific regional order."

Mr. Medcalf, a former diplomat, has long been an advocate of safe-guarded Australian uranium exports to India, and has been calling upon the Labor Party to change its policy since early 2007. According to his assessment, published today on the Lowy Institute blog The Interpreter  

  • Australia's foreign policy, security and economic interests are all served by a change of uranium policy towards India – on track to be the third-largest economy this century, and the world's biggest democracy. The Howard government recognised this in 2007, when it announced it would be prepared to sell India uranium once appropriate safeguards were negotiated.
  • The existing Australian policy exporting only to countries that have joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is unsustainable. The NPT only allows countries that tested the bomb before 1967 to possess nuclear arms, so India would need to surrender its small atomic arsenal before signing, which it cannot do whilst China and Pakistan possess nuclear arms, even though it has a better non-proliferation record than those countries.
  • Australia should export uranium to India only under strict safeguards that it is for civilian use. The most important step is for Canberra to signal an in-principle willingness to negotiate such an agreement.

The Lowy Institute has long been at the forefront of debate and discussion in Australia and internationally on nuclear diplomacy, civil nuclear industry and Australia-India relations. Experts such as Martine Letts and Rory Medcalf have made valuable contributions to the nuclear policy debate in Australia and internationally. It hosts events such as the Australia-India Roundtable – a leading informal dialogue among prominent Australian and Indian voices. It also publishes research papers under a grant from the Nuclear Security Project of the US Nuclear Threat Initiative, encourages rigorous debate and discussion from differing nuclear viewpoints on the Lowy Interpreter blog, and will shortly host a visit by leading US non-proliferation scholar Professor Scott Sagan to address a range of nuclear issues. The Lowy Institute was actively involved with the 2008-2010 International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, supported by the Australian and Japanese governments.

For further information please contact:

For interview requests with Mr. Medcalf please contact direct by email at rmedcalf@lowyinstitute, on twitter at @Rory_Medcalf or on +61 (0) 417 799278

For general media queries please contact: Stephanie Dunstan on +61 (0) 2 82389040 or +61 (0) 435 802629 or by email at sdunstan@lowyinstitute.org

SOURCE Lowy Institute for International Policy