August 10, 2005

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Salving consciouses

Australia and China are to negotiate a nuclear cooperation treaty. Australia's federal Government has recently decided to expand uranium mining in the Northern Territory by assuming control of the issue from the NT Government. There's lots of uranium in the NT, although some is inconveniently located in National Parks, and it's of the best variety - it's easy and cheap to extract. Meanwhile China's rapidly expanding energy needs and nuclear power industry are desperate for uranium to chuck in the reactors.

But not so fast. First the Aussie Government needs a piece of paper from China to say they promise they'll only use Australian uranium for "peaceful purposes". This fig-leaf is meaningless. Once the uranium arrives in China, Australia has no way to verify where it ends up. Even if it is used in electricity generation rather than more nefarious purposes, the problem isn't solved. Why? Because the Aussie uranium is only displacing that sold by other countries to China, some of which are unlikely to be so concerned as to exactly what China intends to do with the uranium. China can substitute the uranium sitting in its peaceful reactors with the clean, treaty enhanced Aussie stuff and shift the old stuff into....well, I'll leave it to you to decide.

This nuclear weapon is proudly not brought to you by Australia.

posted by Simon on 08.10.05 at 03:47 PM in the


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