Any Australian uranium sales to Russia would meet non-proliferation requirements, but the government remains firmly against sales to India, Trade Minister Simon Crean said on Friday.
The government on Thursday rejected a 2008 parliamentary report’s recommendation that Australia not proceed with an agreement to sell uranium to Russia.
The report expressed concerns that the uranium could be stolen or diverted for weapons use.
The government said it has not yet made a final decision on whether to ratify the agreement, signed in 2007 by former Prime Minister John Howard and Russian President Vladimir Puton, who is now Russia’s prime minister.
But it said the agreement met Australia’s long—standing condition that the country’s uranium only be used for peaceful purposes.
“We have taken considerable time on our part to ensure we’re satisfied, the International Atomic Energy Agency is satisfied, that the strictest of safeguards are in place,” Crean told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television on Friday.
But Mr. Crean said Australia would not restart negotiations with India on uranium sales to fuel its expanding nuclear power industry.
Howard’s conservative government started negotiations with India on uranium sales just months before Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Centre-Left government was swept to power in 2007 elections but ruled out exports unless it signs the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
“The signal to India ... is that this is the way in which they can be recipients of our supply and it’s for India to respond to that,” Mr. Crean said.
If the Russian agreement is submitted to Parliament for ratification, it is expected to easily pass because the main opposition party backs nuclear trade with Moscow.
Environmentalists including the Australian Conservation Foundation, however, oppose uranium exports to Russia.