Exposed: Oz Uranium = 2,000 Chinese Nuclear Weapons Per Year

April 4, 2006

Buried in the fine print of documents released by the Howard government yesterday is an acknowledgment that the Chinese regime need not subject a single ounce of Australian uranium to safeguards inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and can freely use it to produce nuclear weapons.

The document states that: "Uranium conversion facilities are before the “starting point” for IAEA safeguards procedures and are not included in IAEA safeguards agreements with nuclear weapon states."

Friends of the Earth's nuclear campaigner Dr Jim Green said: ""The Chinese Communist regime - a world leader in exporting nuclear weapons technology, including exports to Iran, North Korea and Pakistan - will have a free hand to do what it pleases with Australia's uranium. It need not subject a single ounce of Australian uranium to safeguards.

"While the China National Nuclear Corporation busies itself converting Australian uranium into Weapons of Mass Destruction, all that is required under the terms of the agreement is that at some, unspecified part of the nuclear fuel cycle, an equivalent amount of nuclear material is subject to safeguards. Verifying that such a transfer has occurred is easier said than done. The IAEA has itself acknowledged the shortcomings of its safeguards inspection system.

"With proposed exports of 10,000 tonnes of uranium per year, the Chinese regime could build 2,000 nuclear weapons per year using Australian uranium - without even breaching the terms of the disgraceful agreement struck between the Howard government and the Chinese regime.

The reality of the uranium export agreement is in stark contrast to the spin from the government. Alexander Downer's media release states: "These agreements establish strict safeguards arrangements and conditions to ensure Australian uranium supplied to China ... is used exclusively for peaceful purposes."

Dr. Green said: "Downer's claim is simply false. The Chinese regime can use all of the uranium it receives from Australia to produce nuclear weapons - without even breaching the terms of the agreement!"

Contact: Jim Green 0417 318368.