India has intelligently brought into play Australia’s uranium trade with the nuclear weapon states to convince Gillard Government to approve the sale of uranium to India. This approval has created India’s access to the world’s 40% known uranium reserves. The Australia’s willingness to export uranium to India, certainly, reinforces India’s nuclear industry.
The Gillard Government uranium sale to India is a violation of the NPT because India does not agree to Article 3 of the NPT. Moreover the uranium export to India contravenes Australia’s obligations to regional nuclear weapon free zone treaty. Australian National University treaty law expert Don Rothwell pointed out that the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone treaty, known as the Rarotonga Treaty, stops Australia trading the nuclear material with India. Ironically, the Gillard government is insensitive to Australia’s regional and global nuclear non-proliferation commitments.
The uranium sale obviously increases indirectly India’s capability to augment its nuclear arsenal. New Delhi would not only save its indigenous uranium purposely for manufacturing nuclear devices, but also increase its capability to generate more plutonium by using the nuclear reactor waste.
Pakistan also expressed its desire to be treated equally by the Gillard government in the realm of uranium trade. It was reported that Pakistan’s high commissioner to Australia Abdul Malik Abdullah stated that if Australia was willing to export uranium to India then it should be open to selling it to Pakistan as well. The Gillard government, however, is not ready to sell uranium to Pakistan. The Australians he Defense Minister Stephen Smith categorically stated Pakistan does not have the same record so far as proliferation is concerned. Mr. Smith’s position is hypocritical; that Australia is willing to sell uranium to India but not to the Pakistan. Whereas, both states are not party to the NPT.
India did violate its commitment with the nuclear supplier states, when it used the plutonium of CIRUS reactor in 1974 and again in 1998. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s record confirms that Pakistan has not violated its prior commitments with the Agency and did not use the safeguarded nuclear reactor spent fuel for producing fissile material (plutonium) for its nuclear weapons.
To conclude, the Indo-Australia uranium trade not only negatively influences the regional strategic environment, but it would also intensify the fragility of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.