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Australia won't take back spent uranium

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This audio file was created from the text revision dated 2006-05-16 and may not reflect subsequent text edits to this report. (audio help)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Australian Prime Minister John Howard told journalists in Washington that Australia had no plans to take back spent Uranium, despite the US pushing for such a system.

On Monday, Mr Howard held talks with US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman who has indicated that the US would like to see a system where countries lease nuclear fuel instead of buying it. Once the fuel had been used, it would be returned to the country where it originated.

Mr Howard accused the media of misunderstanding Australia's role in the Uranium industry. He told reporters that Australia is simply a Uranium supplier and that it does not convert Uranium into nuclear fuel. Mr Howard believes that the US plan is to create a group of Uranium processing nations that will take radioactive waste once it has been used.

"The question of waste disposal of course is an issue for those who process uranium and develop nuclear fuel, rather than the supplier of the uranium - which if Australia were to remain as a bare exporter would be the situation obtaining in relation to us" said Mr Howard.

According to Mr Howard, the purpose of the plan is to stop the proliferation of countries that have the capacity to process nuclear fuel.

Mr Howard said that Australia would continue to sell Uranium to other parts of the world, subject to its own safeguards. For a country to purchase Uranium from Australia they must enter into a nuclear safeguards agreement, prohibiting Australian Uranium from being used in weapons and must be a signatory to the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Mr Howard claims that it is still more attractive for Australia to sell Uranium rather than leasing it.

Mr Howard told reporters that he asked the US to keep him informed on the proposal but does not expect Australia to be involved in the development of the proposal.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.