Pakistan Gives Australia Harsh Warning On Selling Nuclear Fuel To India
By Darryl Mason
The Howard government wants to sell uranium to India, to power some 14 nuclear power stations it needs to keep up with its ever-growing energy demands. This news comes in the wake of a remarkable bypassing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) by President Bush, who is pushing Washington to allow India to expand its nuclear energy capabilities and to gain more nuclear technology, and equipment, from the United States.
India is not a member of the NNPT, designed to stop a new Cold War style nuclear arms build up, but the Howard government wants to sell them uranium, regardless. The Bush administration has spoken. Australia must sell uranium to India, so naturally the Howard government moves quickly to please our American allies.
But behind the sniffy rejections by the Howard government of the genuine fears that India will use Australian uranium to build more nuclear missiles, and other weapons, Australia is moving ahead with American-led plans to form an Asia-Pacific alliance between India, Australia, Japan and the United States with one key long-term goal on its agenda : contain China.
The Howard government is already selling a local angle on supplying India with nuclear fuel as a move towards helping India lower its future carbon emissions, and it being generally good for the Australian economy, which undoubtedly it will surely be.
But at what cost to regional and world stability?
So enthusiastic are the Howard government to follow the coal export-driven golden economy with a nuclear-fuel driven one, they are "seeking advice" on how to over-ride state controls that limit or impose outright bans on uranium mining.
The majority of Australians reject the expansion of uranium mining, and have done so for decades. So much for democracy.
You would expect the news that Australia, with Bush Co. backing, will sell uranium to India might upset India's neighbour Pakistan. And you'd be right.
A senior Pakistan government minister last night gave Australia a dark warning over its plan to supply nuclear fuel to India :
TONY JONES: Do you expect there to be a diplomatic backlash from Pakistan if a uranium deal goes ahead with India and Pakistan is excluded?Pakistan argues that if India refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it can still access nuclear fuel from Australia to power its economy, then Pakistan should be given the same access to uranium supplies.
IJAZ UL-HAQ: As a Pakistani, I can tell you the entire nation is going to be very upset.
Locally, Howard government ministers are already trying to hose down opposition from Australians to the purposeful shattering of the NNPT.
Treasurer Peter Costello told Melbourne Radio 3AW :
"I would want to know that there were very strict safeguards in place before we sold to any country that was outside the Nonproliferation Treaty."Err, safeguards more strict than the the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Costello?
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer tried to claim that "no final decision has been made" on Australia exporting uranium to India. Well, not officially anyway :
Mr Downer said exports could go ahead if India agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), similar to a deal being negotiated between India and the US.
"In these circumstances it is a possibility that we would begin negotiations with India over supplying uranium to power stations which were subject to United Nations inspections and to the regime of the international atomic agency," he said.
Interesting then that Downer, and the Howard government, remain so vehemently opposed to Iran using these same IAEA surveillance measures to create its own nuclear energy industry.
But then hypocrisy is Alexander Downer's middle name. Unofficially.
The larger, global context of new strategic alliances has never been, and will never be, brought into the national debate in regard to uranium exports by Downer, or anyone else in the Howard government.
Australia won't sell nuclear fuel to Pakistan because Pakistan is gradually becoming part of the strategic military and energy alliance between Iran, China and Russia.
India is okay to get uranium outside of the NNPT because they will be part of the future Asia Pacific axis between Australia, Japan and the United States. There'll be more hints towards the formation of such an access at September's APEC summit in Sydney in September.
The Australian people, meanwhile, and as usual, are treated like mushrooms (a dark room, lots of bullshit) by the Howard government who don't seem to comprehend that many Australians are keenly aware of what is going on in the larger world, and how the new world alliances are taking shape. These things are hardly secrets.
But the Howard government will, as always, appeal to Australians through its foundation mantra "Please think of the economy!" And why not? They've done a great job of transforming the way most Australians view wealth and the accumulation of assets.
Through a decade of appealing to base instincts, and lots of very expensive marketing and propaganda campaigns, the Howard government has morphed Australia into a greedy nation. A national mindset that was all but non-existent until the mid-1990s.
Australians are loaded up with shocking levels of personal and family debt, and the Howard government can now use all that debt-related fear and anxiety to ram through anything it likes, simply by saying, with varying degrees of subtlety, that if we don't sell uranium to India, for example, the economy will suffer. And we all now what that means.
In reality, the long-term balances of regional stability, and the possibility of future economic embargoes against Australia from China, if things get really ugly, will make a few billion dollars worth of uranium sales in the next few years look like a handful of worthless coins in the coming decades.
We are told by the Howard government that China uses the coal it buys from Australia to fuel its generators. No doubt this is true enough. But there are growing rumours that China is saving up its own huge coal deposits in anticipation of future isolation attempts by the United States, and is using Australia coal to also expand its apparently fairly successful energy programs to turn coal into oil. Australian coal may sound expensive, but its cheap if you can turn it into oil, particularly when oil is likely to reach $100 per barrel, or more, in the next two years.
Every action of this kind - selling uranium to India - carries a larger, long-term cost. But don't expect the Howard government to lay out all the options and information so Australians can decide what is in their best interest. The Howard government will keep insisting that everything it does is in "our national interest". But its definition of "national interest" differs greatly from what most Australians would assume it means.
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