Australia may delay ratify uranium sale treaty with Russia

Friday, September 19, 2008

Melbourne, Sept 19 (PTI) Fearing that Russia may use the uranium from Australia for its nuclear weapons program, Federal Parliament's Treaties Committee today advised the government to delay ratifying the treaty with the nation.
Australia is expected to review a report by the committee which advised against uranium sale to Russia before its makes a final decision on the matter.

The Treaty, worth about 1 billion dollars for sale of uranium to Russia, was signed by the Howard government last year.

"Obviously the global situation in relation to the Russian Federation is now complex as a result of what we have seen in Georgia and most particularly in Southern Ossetia," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said, according to ABC report.

"We will be working closely with international governments on the best response to the Russians. This is again a very difficult challenge for the global order," he added.

After examining the proposal, the majority Labor members on the Treaties Committee have said it should be torn up if eight stringent conditions cannot be met, including the separation of Russia's civil and military nuclear facilities and the resumption of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of facilities that will take Australian uranium.

Committee members had earlier expressed fears that Russia could use Australian uranium as part of its nuclear weapons program, though Coalition Senators have issued a dissenting report saying that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty provides safeguards against Russia's use of uranium for military use.

They also said nuclear power might help Russia lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

Committee chair Kelvin Thomson said Liberal Party was having a bet each way with the IAEA.

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