Global Insider: Australia Seeks Assurances From India in Advance of Nuclear Trade Deal

India is seeking to conclude a nuclear trade deal with Australia’s new government by the end of the year. In an email interview, Rory Medcalf, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute and associate director of the Australia India Institute, explained what’s at stake in their negotiations.

WPR: What is at stake in the nuclear trade negotiations between India and Australia?

Rory Medcalf: These are safeguards talks aimed at finalizing an agreement to ensure that any Australian uranium exported to India will not be diverted to military uses. Uranium is no longer a make or break issue in Australia-India relations, since the Australian government and the opposition Labor Party both now support civilian uranium exports to India in principle. There was a long phase of discrimination against India, including a blanket ban on uranium exports to India from Australia due to India’s non-signature of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), but that is now over. So Indians know the barrier of mistrust and discrimination is gone permanently. But exports will not be automatic—first, the two countries have to agree on the details of safeguards, and then of course commercial entities on both sides have to come to business supply arrangements.

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