Claims that Australian uranium will not fuel or help fuel a nuclear arms race in the Indian subcontinent is ridiculous and divorced from reality.
Blind Freddie can see that no matter what safeguards we may nominally place on Australian uranium that is sold to India, it will simply free up unsafeguarded Indian uranium – mined in the worlds worst and most unsafe uranium mines at Jaduguda – for weapons use.
The facts are that India has very limited uranium resources of its own, and to date it has had to use those for BOTH nuclear weapons use, and at the same time for use in its own indigenous nuclear reactors. This is one reason India wants our uranium so much. This shortage has placed considerable pressure on India’s own production capacity, leading it to take safety shortcuts in an attempt to produce sufficient. It has also limited to some extent, India’s ability to produce nuclear warheads.
However, if Australian uranium is used in the just over 50% of India’s reactors that are now subject to IAEA safeguards and designated as ‘civil’, unsafeguarded Indian uranium still produced in places like Jaduguda, can be reserved for use in India’s nuclear weapons program, removing one limiting factor to the growth of Indian nuclear warheads.
India and Pakistan are currently engaged in a nuclear arms race, with Pakistan having somewhere between 110 and 120 warheads, and India just behind that number, somewhere between 100 and 110.
India and Pakistan have already come close to nuclear war at least twice, most recently in 2002-2003 in a year–long crisis that both governments later acknowledged as a close call.
An India-Pakistan nuclear war would create a prompt body–count of somewhere around 150 million, and could put as many as 2 billion people worldwide at risk of starvation in the ‘nuclear autumn’ that would follow from the burning of Indian and Pakistani cities.
Is this really the kind of trade Australia wants to make with a neighbor?