Aug 162007
 

Where is the logic in selling uranium to India on the basis that doing so will strengthen the NNPT?


This happens to be M’lud ‘Dolly’ Downer’s take on the latest instruction from Washington, to which the Howardian cabal has dutifully tugged a forelock. That’s right, and make no mistakes, dear reader. There is only one reason for this country to be selling uranium to a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that being because the sole superpower has so instructed. We are effectively abetting US foreign policy, like it or not. The United States of Yankmania is effectively writing our foreign policy for us.
I’m especially amused…..or should that be bemused…..by the claims of India having a very sound non-proliferation record. How do we know that? They aren’t a part of any IAEA oversight regime. No-one suspected that A Q Khan was proliferating either, until Pakistani technology surfaced in Iran and North Korea. One wonders where Indian nuclear tech will surface. In a terrorists attach√© case, perhaps?
Then there’s the reassuring argument that our uranium won’t be utilised in an Indian weapons program. I wasn’t aware that yellowcake molecules carried ‘made in Australia’ markers. Does the label carry through the gaseous enrichment process as well? Gee whizz….I sure hope so. Oh yes, of course, our uranium will be used solely for civilian power generation. Other nations’ uranium will be weaponised, where it would have been used in power generation, so while Australian uranium may not be weaponised, we’re effectively enabling someone else’s to be. I’m glad that definitive understanding has been communicated.
All cynacism aside, as a pragmatist I’m well aware that, particularly in Asia minor, a nuclear arms race has been on since the sixties. The threat of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan remains a valid one today, despite the lowering of tensions in recent times. In the Middle East there’s Israel which is clandestinely nuclear, even though she’s never openly stated as much. Iran is well on the way to achieving enriched nuclear power generation status, and despite the angst being experienced by the US of A over a muslim nation striving for a place in the big game, albeit on a civilian level, Iran has done nothing illegal. The IAEA cannot officially claim that Iran has contravened the NNPT simply because she hasn’t.
I’m in agreement with Gareth Evans in that while the NNPT might be rapidly approaching its use-by date, deliberately selling the uranium which a non-signatory could turn around and weaponise with no punitive implications from the global community appears to be complete lunacy. Evans is right when he states that new lines in the sand need to be drawn because non-signatories, and signatories alike, can get away with pushing boundaries which previously were never threatened. If the world is to have benchmarks which no power, nuclear-capable or planning to be, will dare to exceed, the penalties need to be much more sharply defined than at present.