Uranium for India
Australian uranium will be sold to India if Prime Minister Julia Gillard gets her way, despite the emerging Asian power not being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Ms Gillard will today flag her intention to fight the Left of her own party on the issue and push to change Labor's platform to allow the uranium exports to India.
Labor opposes selling uranium to any nation that is not a signatory to the treaty.
But Ms Gillard will explain she believes the non-proliferation treaty is no longer a relevant factor in relation to India.
Just last month, however, the Prime Minister remained firm in refusing to send Australian yellowcake to India because it had not signed up to the treaty. ''We do not have a policy that is particularly about India, but we do have a policy about the nuclear proliferation treaty and that continues to be the position of the Government,'' she said.
Ms Gillard spent the past few days at the APEC Summit in Honolulu and returns to Canberra early this morning prepared to change the position of her Government. She met with US President Barack Obama at APEC before his visit to Canberra tomorrow.
Ms Gillard will today state her case why Australia should let India in on the yellowcake before next month's Labor Party national conference, where the uranium issue will be debated.
She is expected to say that not selling uranium to India only made sense when that position was part of an international strategy to bring the subcontinent into the treaty.
But with the United States-India civil nuclear agreement of 2007, that strategy changed in effect lifting the de facto international ban on nuclear cooperation with India.
The Prime Minister does not want Australia to ''stand alone'' as a country that will not consider nuclear trade with India.
The Government has come under pressure from the uranium mining lobby, Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett and the Indian Government. The Federal Opposition also supports uranium sales to India. Ms Gillard's platform change would mean Australia would place India on the same level with regards to selling uranium as those countries that have signed the non-proliferation treaty, such as the US, Japan and China.
The Prime Minister will defend her stand by saying it is in Australia's national interest because it will boost the economy and strengthen the bilateral relationship with India.
She will attempt to sell the idea on the grounds of job creation as well as uranium's emissions-free environmental benefits.
At almost $16 billion a year, India is Australia's fourth-biggest export market.
The Prime Minister wants to boost that figure by adding uranium to the list of traded goods.
India is expected to increase its nuclear power use from its current 3 per cent of electricity to 40 per cent by 2050.
Australia is the world's third-largest supplier of uranium.
But the Greens, the environment lobby and human rights groups will condemn the move because of the risk of nuclear fallout and the uncertainty of India's military intentions.
Ms Gillard will be fighting many within her own party who steadfastly oppose selling uranium to any country that has not signed the non-proliferation treaty.
She will have some high level Labor support, with Resources Minister Martin Ferguson in favour of exporting uranium to India.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is also thought to be open to the idea, despite his public comments to the contrary.
''Work out where India currently sources its uranium from around the world. There is no problem in terms of global supply,'' Mr Rudd said recently. ''If you hear an argument from an Indian businessperson that the future of the nuclear industry in India depends exclusively on access to uranium, that is simply not sustainable as a proposition.''