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Australia denies China blocking uranium to India

by Staff Writers
Canberra (AFP) Sept 12, 2008
Australia's foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Friday shot down claims that China is pressing Canberra not to supply Beijing's rival India with uranium for nuclear fuel.

Australia has said it will not sell yellowcake to India unless it signs the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), even though the United States has signed a deal to share nuclear technology with India.

Smith, who is in India, said the suggestion that China was blocking Australian uranium sales to India had been put to him during his visit.

"There is certainly no basis for it. It hasn't been expressed to me by the Indian government or Indian officials," Smith told Sky News in Australia.

"I have had that question raised of me at a public speech that I gave at one of the Indian think-tanks, and I made this point: people should not assume that just because the prime minister can speak Mandarin that in anyway influences our foreign policy approach."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a Mandarin-speaking Sinophile who has been warmly received during his visits to China, India's great regional rival.

Smith however made it clear that Canberra would not change its mind about refusing to export uranium to countries such as India that have not signed the NPT.

"Our decision about uranium is as a result of a long-standing policy position of the Labor Party that we don't export uranium to a country that is not a party to the non-proliferation treaty," he said.

"It's not aimed at India, it's just a long-standing position which underpins and underlines our support of non-proliferation."

The minister however downplayed the importance of the uranium stand-off between India and Australia.

"There is no doubt of course that India would prefer Australia had a different position on uranium," he said.

"But there's more than one country that India can source its uranium from and it's just one aspect of a much broader and deeper relationship -- economic, trade, investment, people to people -- between Australia and India."

Australia boasts the world's largest uranium reserves -- 24 percent of the planet's known resources -- and is the world's second largest miner of yellowcake after Canada.

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White House sends India nuclear deal to Congress
Washington (AFP) Sept 10, 2008
The White House said late Wednesday it sent the text of a landmark US-India civilian nuclear agreement to Congress for final approval but it remains unclear if lawmakers will give the accord the greenlight.

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