Downer misleads on India nuclear deal

Foreign minister Alexander Downer's August 1 media release on proposals for the US and Australia to sell uranium and reactors to India is false and misleading, Friends of the Earth claimed today.

MEDIA RELEASE - AUGUST 3 2007

DOWNER MISLEADS ON INDIA NUCLEAR DEAL

Foreign minister Alexander Downer's August 1 media release on proposals for the US and Australia to sell uranium and reactors to India is false and misleading, Friends of the Earth claimed today.

Mr Downer's media release states: "The US-India initiative includes commitments by India to continue its nuclear testing moratorium ... and adhere to Nuclear Suppliers Group standards."

FoE's national nuclear campaigner Dr Jim Green said: "India's 'moratorium' on nuclear weapons testing counts for nothing given that it refuses to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Moreover the 'moratorium' has nothing to do with the US-India deal."

On July 27, Indian national security adviser M.K. Narayan said. "This deal deals primarily with the civil nuclear cooperation. There is no reference here to detonation or to any test. So, what happens in the event of a test, we will come to that position later on."

Mr Downer considers himself a champion of the Test Ban Treaty. He has a chance to prove it. As a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, Australia could block the US-India deal unless India signs and ratifies the CTBT.

Dr Green said: "Mr Downer's statement regarding Nuclear Suppliers Group standards is disingenuous given that the US-India deal is itself a clear violation of the NSG principle of not supporting nuclear programs in non-NPT states. The NSG will be asked to waive this principle in relation to the US-India deal."

Mr Downer claims that Australian uranium exports would not facilitate weapons production in India. That is not the view in India. K. Subrahmanyam, former head of the India's National Security Advisory Board, said that: "Given India's uranium ore crunch and the need to build up our minimum credible nuclear deterrent arsenal as fast as possible, it is to India's advantage to categorize as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refueled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons grade plutonium production."

Contact: Jim Green 0417 318 368