What's happening at the
Thursday 17 Aug 2017 | 16:22 | SYDNEY
Thursday 17 Aug 2017 | 16:22 | SYDNEY

Uranium sales help us to lift standards

By


This post is part of the Selling Australian uranium to India debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

COMMENTS

17 November 2011 13:27


This post is part of the Selling Australian uranium to India debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

One of the oddest criticism of Gillard's move to sell uranium to India is that she is breaking with the non-proliferation approach of the Hawke and Keating governments, when actually it's the exact same strategy: trading uranium in return for influence in setting safety standards.

This (lucrative) approach, of selling uranium while insisting on world-class safety standards, is the reason Australia became 'a global champion of non-proliferation'. Without it, Australia's many other achievements — extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty, passing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, undertaking the intellectual leg-work for global disarmament via the Canberra Commission and the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament — would not have been possible.

While Australia has around 30-40% of the world's uranium supply, there are too many other suppliers for a ban by Australia to have a significant effect. India is a case in point. Should Australia ban uranium sales outright, as some critics want, our likely influence would be akin to New Zealand's. Our southern neighbour took a more principled stand in the 1980s on nuclear power, but has, undeniably, had significantly less effect on global proliferation norms and conditions than Australia.

That's not a function of size, but strategy. While the Prime Minister has argued the economic benefits, and Rory noted the security benefits, it is through deals like this that Australia, a remote middle power, can best influence non-proliferation standards worldwide.

Photo by the Uranium Energy Corp.

You may also be interested in...