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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hand with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, New Delhi, India, Sept. 5, 2014 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Nuclear Deal Puts India, Australia on Path for Expanded Strategic Ties

Monday, Sept. 8, 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to India last week highlighted the two countries’ increasingly complementary geoeconomic objectives. The visit saw the conclusion of a much-delayed bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement that paves the way for uranium exports from Australia’s high-quality mines to fuel India’s ambitious nuclear energy plans. While in value terms future Australian uranium exports may not seem like much, they will actually enable India to undertake its next wave of industrialization in a more carbon-competitive manner, and that in turn will fuel massive demand for other Australian mineral exports. The strategic nature of the India-Australia alignment is likely to be rounded up with a maritime cooperation agreement in the near future aimed at securing much of the eastern Indian Ocean for a vastly expanded resource flow of both migrants and materiel.

The bilateral civil nuclear deal signed during the visit was the first such agreement concluded by Australia with a country outside the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) framework, marking a hard-won consensus within Australia’s policymaking circles to engage with India with a clear eye on the future. Moreover, that a country such as Australia, which has had a consistent uranium export policy since 1977, is on board with India’s civil-military separation plan and safeguards arrangements with the IAEA serves to further boost India’s reputation as a country with a strong nonproliferation record and natural standing in a new rules-based global framework for strategic trade. Prior to Abbott’s visit, India’s new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also ratified an additional protocol with the IAEA, something that Australia requires from counterparties before it supplies uranium. ...

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