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Howard and Wen duck nuclear weapons question

Howard and Wen duck nuclear weapons question

Prime Minister John Howard's deal with Chinese Premier Wen to sell
Australian uranium to China will see Australian uranium either directly or indirectly support China's nuclear weapons programme, the Australian Greens said today.

"The Chinese Ambassador to Australia in December 2005 said that China had insufficient uranium for both its nuclear power and nuclear weapons programmes," Greens energy spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said in Launceston.

"It is obvious that Australian uranium will make up the shortfall.

"In the news conference announcing the deal in Canberra, Premier Wen ducked the question as to whether Chinese uranium would be diverted from civilian nuclear reactors to the weapons programme.

"All John Howard would say was that China's safeguards arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would apply.

"What must be understood is that China as a nuclear weapons state makes the decision about which facilities will be open to inspection by the IAEA. These facilities can be withdrawn from inspection at any time of China's choosing.

"The agreements make clear that Australian yellowcake will go first to Chinese nuclear facilities for conversion and these are outside the safeguards agreement.

"Whilst Prime Minister Howard says that Australian uranium will only be permitted to be enriched to 20 per cent, there is no way that he can guarantee this as once the uranium is converted into uranium hexafluoride it is impossible to tell from where it was sourced.

"Selling uranium to a military dictatorship which has already made nuclear materials and technology available to Pakistan and Iran and which has so little respect for human rights and industrial health and safety is putting dollars before human decency and global security.

"Australia should be providing cutting-edge renewable energy technology to the world and making a positive contribution to climate change and global security, rather than supporting a politically reactionary regime and the build-up of nuclear weapons."

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