Parliamentary Committee urged to reject uranium sales to Russia

\ParliamentaryToday the federal parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) is holding a public hearing in Melbourne regarding the Australia-Russia Nuclear Agreement which includes provisions for the export of Australian uranium to Russia. The JSCT will hear that there have been no International Atomic Energy Agency inspections in Russia for many years - information which the Australian Safeguards and Non- proliferation Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs have conspicuously failed to provide to the Standing Committee.

MEDIA RELEASE - JULY 28, 2008

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE URGED TO REJECT URANIUM SALES TO RUSSIA

Today the federal parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) is holding a public hearing in Melbourne regarding the Australia-Russia Nuclear Agreement which includes provisions for the export of Australian uranium to Russia. The JSCT will hear that there have been no International Atomic Energy Agency inspections in Russia for many years - information which the Australian Safeguards and Non- proliferation Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs have conspicuously failed to provide to the Standing Committee.

Friends of the Earth's national nuclear spokesperson Dr Jim Green, who will address the Standing Committee today, said: "There have been no IAEA inspections in Russia for at least the past six years - and possibly many years before that. There is nothing in the Australia- Russia Agreement to ensure that any inspections will be carried out in future.

"The Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO) has misled the Standing Committee with its claims that Australia has "particularly rigorous safeguards requirements". In fact, the Australia-Russia Agreement is consistent with the current pattern of no safeguards inspections whatsoever. This situation is clearly unacceptable."

Dr Green will also address the issue of nuclear theft and smuggling at today's JSCT hearing.

"Contrary to ASNO's assertions, the evidence shows that the problem of nuclear smuggling is growing and that Russia and other ex-Soviet states are still central to this global problem. A 2007 report from the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate and Russia's Atomic Energy Agency found that a large number of nuclear facilities have "insufficient" security measures and that cooperation among authorities is "inadequate". There are also disturbing reports of Russia failing to cooperate with Georgian investigations into nuclear smuggling. The Russian government has also failed to cooperate with the British investigation into the polonium-210 poisoning murder of former KGB spy-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko."

"The Joint Standing Committee should reject the dangerous and irresponsible Australia-Russia Nuclear Agreement," Dr Green concluded.

Contact: Jim Green 0417 318 368