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Nuclear focus at Asia-Pacific climate pact meeting

Greens alarmed by nuclear focus at Asia-Pacific climate pact meeting

The Asia-Pacific climate pact meeting in Sydney is living up to the worst fears of environmentalists, namely that it is a sham to window-dress a meeting of resource deals, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said today.

"News today that the United States is backing Australia in exporting uranium to China merely confirms the assertion that the climate pact is nothing more than the Asia-Pacific partnership for the export of coal and uranium to China and India," Senator Milne said in Sydney.

US endorsement of Australia's uranium export push follows revelations that China asked last year whether it could evade export controls on Australian uranium if China owned some Australian uranium assets.

The information is contained in answers to questions on notice asked by Senator Milne.

"Australian officials told their Chinese counterparts that this was not possible but the fact that China was thinking along these lines raises serious questions about the nuclear safeguards agreement the two countries are negotiating," Senator Milne said.

"If China is to limit its use of Australian uranium to civilian purposes then why would Chinese officials even consider how to evade Australia's export controls?

"This information adds to my concerns that if Australian uranium were exported to China it could be diverted for weapons use or allow China to redirect uranium from other sources to weapons use.

"Nuclear power, fuelled by Australian uranium, is no solution to climate change. It is dangerous, relies on hefty public subsidies and takes a long time to establish.

"The Howard government should abandon its uranium export push and focus instead on proven renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency to address climate change."

Senator Milne today attended a demonstration organised by community groups outside the Asia-Pacific climate pact meeting in Sydney.

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