PM Tony Abbott to Sign Julia Gillard-Brokered Uranium Deal With India

By @vitthernandez on
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivers his keynote speech during the B20 Summit in Sydney, July 17, 2014. Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott normally shuns anything that had to do with political acts of nemesis, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. But not for the uranium deal with India, which Mr Abbott is expected to ink an agreement in his next visit to the Asian giant.

Ms Gillard overturned a prohibition on the sale of uranium to India and Canberra and New Delhi had been negotiating safeguards since 2012 amid India's decision not to sign the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

After two years of discussion, Indian officials have convinced Australia - which controls about one-third of the global supply of uranium - that the commodity will not be used  for nuclear weapons, ABC reports.

Since India initially tested a nuclear device in 1974, the once-poor Asian country now considered an emerging economy has close to 100 nuclear weapons, estimates said.

Mr Abbott plans to ink the deal when he visits India in early September, reports said.

The PM's different outlook toward the uranium deal is a radical turnaround from his efforts to repeal initiatives of Ms Gillard such as the carbon tax that he successfully repealed and the mining tax which he is working to also repeal.

Commenting on the reported planned signing of an agreement, Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said, "The Labor party put in place the policy framework to allow that to happen so if that has been progressed that's something that's welcomed."

However, the Greens opposed the deal. "Australia will be directly complicit  in fuelling the nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan if reports are confirmed that a uranium deal with India is on the cards," The Guardian quoted Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

Rather than back the deal, Ludlam said Australia must support India's thriving solar industry.

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