In a move that will strengthen ties between India and Australia, The first ever shipment of uranium from Australia – having world’s biggest reserves of yellow cake – is on its way to India elevating strategic partnership to a new level.
Three years after signing a civilian nuclear supply treaty, the Federal Government confirmed overnight the first shipment of Australian uranium has left for India.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop provided little information about the inaugural sale, and said, “I understand the first shipment is on its way. That’s my understanding, it’s a commercial arrangement”.
She also suggested that China, pursuing an aggressive foreign policy, must adhere to international norms amid Sino-Indian border standoff.
“The first shipment of uranium under the commercial arrangement is on its own way to India. The parliamentary clearance for uranium supplies was approved in Australia. India and Australia have also agreed on nuclear safeguards agreement,” the minister told after her meeting with the PM, Foreign Minister and Defence & Finance Minister.
However, Turnbull assured India in his last visit that the first shipment of uranium from Australia to India will happen “as soon as possible.”
India and Australia signed a civil nuclear pact in 2014 and Canberra has been a supporter of India’s entry into the NSG besides other export control regimes.
“This is long term dispute. While maritime border disputes should be settled based on UNCLOS, land boundary disputes should be settled peacefully. We don’t want to see an escalation. Any miscalculation could lead to tensions,” Bishop remarked.
Australia will be continuing to send uranium to India depending upon the commercial arrangements, she added.
A parliamentary committee in Australia last year heard that the deal with India could double the size of Australia’s uranium mining industry and increase export revenue by $1.75 billion.
India emerged from nuclear exile following an agreement with the U.S. in 2008, leading to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group lifting a three-decade ban on sharing technology and fuel. India has since signed nuclear accords with 12 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, according to the World Nuclear Association.
India has 21 reactors that can generate 5,780 megawatts of electricity. Of this, 13 reactors, with a combined capacity of 3,380 megawatts, are under international safeguards and run on imported fuel. Another 1,000 megawatt reactor, which is expected to soon start operations in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, will also be under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
India is looking to expand its nuclear power production, but it has been hampered by a limited domestic supply of uranium and has been blocked by China from joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This makes sourcing uranium more difficult for India.
But in May, India announced plans to build 10 new reactors, a $14 billion move the Australian Government hopes will eventually provide 7,000 megawatts of clean electricity.
Source: Defence news