Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that his country, which has the biggest known uranium deposits in the world (roughly one third of the total), is keen to sell the mineral to India. The New York Times reports:
India, which now gets more than half its electricity from coal-fired plants, suffers crippling power shortages, and has been trying to develop civilian nuclear energy as an alternative. It has 20 reactors with a capacity of 4,780 megawatts, but just nine are operating at capacity. India hopes to be producing 63,000 megawatts of nuclear energy by 2032.
Securing enough fuel has been a sticking point because of the treaty, which allows signatory countries to possess nuclear weapons only if they tested such weapons before 1967. India, which first tested an atomic weapon in 1974, says the treaty is discriminatory. […]
Mr. Abbott said in a broadcast interview on Tuesday that he was not worried about that issue. “We ought to be prepared to provide uranium to India under suitable safeguards,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “India is a fully functioning democracy with the rule of law, and I think we should be prepared to support India, and that’s what my upcoming visit will be all about.”
India is making other moves to secure its nuclear future: Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Abe made the first moves toward a nuclear deal in Kyoto this past weekend.Australia’s move is considered controversial by the international community, because India is one of three possibly nuclear-armed states to have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (along with Pakistan and Israel), but not as controversial as it once would have been. The U.S., too, provide support to India’s civil nuclear infrastructure.Treaty or no treaty, worries over India’s nuclear weapons, it seems, are not serious enough to override international optimism about the Indian state under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, concerns about India’s need for alternatives to its current dirty power-production infrastructure, and the desire to create a regional alliance to counterbalance China’s rising power.