Australia’s agreement to provide India with uranium could leave Canberra with no say on the use of nuclear material shipped to India, the former head of Australia’s nuclear watchdog said Friday.
“[Australian authorities] clearly left out a number of things that the Indians don’t like . . . Where Australia has given reprocessing consent in the past, it’s on the basis that we approve downstream facilities where the plutonium will be used. But under the India agreement, we’re just not doing that,” John Carlson, the former head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, was cited as saying by The Guardian.
Plutonium is created from uranium in nuclear reactors and may potentially be used in the creation of nuclear weapons.
According to Carlson, the “reprocessing consent” outlined in the sixth article of the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement means Australia has no say in how India may choose to use byproducts from energy production.
The deal appeared to waive “standard provisions” relating to nuclear safeguards, Carlson told the newspaper, noting that Australia has been allowed to track the uranium it supplies, and well as its byproducts, under every similar agreement thus far.
An agreement on nuclear cooperation between India and Australia was signed on September 5 during Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s trip to New Delhi. Australia, which holds the largest uranium deposits in the world, has previously refused to sign such an agreement because India is not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.