Rudd in secret Uranium deal with China

Energy Matters0

The Australian Greens say Foreign Minister Stephen Smith’s accidental tabling of a document that reveals disturbing negations between Australia and China needs to be scrutinised.

“The document reveals amendments to Australia’s existing nuclear cooperation with China. These are so significant it’s doubly important that they are carefully scrutinised as part the usual Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) process,” said Greens nuclear spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.

“The Committee, of which I am a member, should apply the same conditions to this China Agreement as it did on the Australia-Russia uranium agreement. Australia needs to be absolutely certain that materials sent to nuclear weapons states will not be used in nuclear weapons,” he said.

Australia’s nuclear safeguards agreement with China is focused primarily on supply of uranium in uranium ore concentrates. The new negotiations, which began in January, are intended to provide a mechanism to account in China for an enormous amount of Australian uranium planned to be extracted from copper and other concentrates arising from the Olympic Dam expansion.

The document exposes the fact that what BHP plans to do at Roxby – under the EIS publicly released on 1 May – will not be legal unless the treaty is amended because safeguards regimes would not exist over Australian Obligated Nuclear Materials (AONM).  BHP’s expansion is entirely dependent upon being able to export 2/3rds concentrated copper to China.

“The accidental tabling of this material begs the question as to why these negotiations are conducted in secrecy.  If there was more transparency and accountability in bilateral treaty negotiations, maybe they would save the Minister from further embarrassment,” said Senator Ludlam.

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