Uranium is a blight, not a blessing, for India
"The Prime Minister should put human rights and safety before uranium profits during her current visit to India," said Australian Greens spokesperson on nuclear issues, Senator Scott Ludlam, today.
"This visit will no doubt be spun as a triumph for the uranium industry, a deal is a long way from reality. Australia and India are months away from a formal agreement, and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties should be expected to conduct an exhaustive inquiry into any agreement that emerges.
"Recently at the site of a nuclear reactor in Koodankulam, police have used brutal tactics against tens of thousands of peaceful protestors. Two people have been shot dead by police, most recently Mr Anthony Samy in September. There have been at least five deaths in the struggles against Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana) nuclear power plants since 2010.
"There were more arrests in September and as recently as three days ago - 12 October - An ‘All India Fact Finding' team of about 12 people was intercepted at Nanguneri on route to Idinthakarai, interrogated and remanded in Tirunelveli Jail. This is part of a pattern of intimidation to silence dissent.
"The September 2012 Comptroller and Auditor General's report on India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and on nuclear safety regulation in India highlighted a series of grave organisational and operational flaws, and raised serious concerns about the lack of independence of the Board. The Indian government has legislation before parliament to replace the board with a new Regulatory Authority which will have even less independence than the current board.
"Earlier this year India was ranked 28th out of 32 countries in terms of the security of their nuclear stockpiles, and in 2011 one of India's pioneer nuclear scientists and formerly a member of India's Atomic Energy Commission - Dr MP Parameswaran - said India should suspend its entire nuclear program because of safety risks and the unresolved problem of nuclear waste.
"Pushing uranium onto India's market temporarily benefits a dying industry in Australia at the expense of Indians who deserve energy that is clean, safe, and affordable. Nuclear is none of those things."