Righting a wrong

Righting a wrong

It has also corrected some wrong notions about India’s nuclear programme. The decision may be taken as a sign of Canberra finally accepting the fact that India’s nuclear programme is peaceful and there are enough safeguards built into it. India’s record of non-proliferation is the best even though it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its conduct as a responsible nuclear power helped it to enter into a civil nuclear deal also with the US in 2005. India was given a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the members were allowed to conduct nuclear trade with India,. Australia had also voted for the waiver. But it continued to dilly-dally on uranium exports to India.

Australia is a major uranium exporter. The previous Conservative government has initiated talks on the possibility of uranium exports to India but the Labour government which came to power in 2007 discontinued the talks. But it has now revoked the decision, with prime minister Julia Gillard taking a special interest in the matter. Australia was the loser by refusing to do uranium trade with India. But in the case of trade in sensitive items there are considerations other than commercial. Strategic and political factors are also important. India’s rising economic and military profile also could have been a major reason for the Australian government’s reversal of its old policy. This was also clear from Australia’s keenness to have a security arrangement with India, involving the US also. Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd even announced that India was ready to join such a pact, which is meant to act as a check on China’s moves in the Asia-pacific region.

India has denied that there is any such proposal. The Australian government seems to have taken India for granted while making the announcement. India has always had an independent foreign policy and has refrained from entering any multilateral security and military arrangement. It  would welcome nuclear trade with Australia and would be willing co-operate with that country on issues related to maritime security. But it would not like to be part of a security arrangement directed against another country, in this case China. India also may have concerns over China but it will not help be a part of a US strategy to contain China.

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