Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Rann changes tack on uranium sales to India

MIKE Rann has backed a growing push for the Gillard government to allow uranium exports to India.
The long-serving South Australian Premier, forced by Labor to hand his premiership over to Education Minister Jay Weatherill tomorrow morning, said it was time to think about agreeing to India's desire to import uranium from Australia.
Asked on Sky News's Showdown on Tuesday night if the federal government was wrong to ban uranium exports to India, Mr Rann said: "I actually believe it's probably timely for a sensible discussion about that.
"We've seen various groups . . . recognising India and so I think it's probably time to have a rethink on that in terms of the very strict standards that India is now prepared to sign up to."
Mr Rann's remarks came a week after he signed off on approvals for BHP Billiton's proposal to expand the Olympic Dam mine in the state's far north. "It will be the world's biggest uranium mine," he said.

Mr Rann was a longstanding opponent of uranium exports to India, and had called potential sales a "grave mistake" and "extremely foolhardy".
While India is Australia's third-biggest export market, Labor is opposed to exporting uranium to a nation that has not signed the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In September, Tony Abbott said the government had made a "great mistake" in reversing the Howard government's decision to sell uranium to India.
Speaking from France, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the federal government's policy was clear.
"We will only supply uranium to countries that are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have signed a bilateral agreement with Australia," he said.
"This is not a policy specific to India; it applies equally to all countries."
He said the policy would be debated at the party's national conference in December.
Australian Uranium Association chief executive Michael Angwin said it was not the Premier's role to determine which countries uranium could be exported to.

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