Doctors applaud withholding uranium from Russia

CANBERRA, 18 SEPTEMBER 2008: The Medical Association for Prevention of War has welcomed the recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties that Australia does not proceed with uranium sales to Russia until far more stringent measures are in place to separate Russia’s civilian and military facilities.

Five Liberal and National party members of the committee issued a dissenting report, seemingly on the basis of faith that things will improve when Australian exports begin. Liberal member Kevin Andrews did not sign either document. 

Association President Dr Sue Wareham congratulated the Committee on taking seriously both the inadequacy of current safeguards as they relate to Russia, and Australia’s responsibilities as a uranium exporter.

“The committee, in proposing that the separation of civilian and military uses of uranium be verified by IAEAi inspections, have understood the alarming truth of the existing system” Dr Wareham said.

“As MAPW told the committee, the current safeguards cannot guarantee that Australian uranium would not end up in Russian nuclear weapons”

“The five nuclear weapons states which are party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPTi), including Russia, are under much less scrutiny than states that do not yet have nuclear weapons. For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEAi, has confirmed that Russia’s military sites are off limits for inspection."

"Worse still, no IAEAi report or safeguards statement since 1995 makes mention of actual inspections in Russian facilities,” said Dr Wareham.

The Committee has also recommended that Russia should fulfil its obligations under the NPTi treaty, before Australia considers selling Russia our uranium.

“MAPW believes that Australia should not sell uranium to any nuclear weapons states, including Russia. All of the 5 nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPTi are in breach of the treaty by their refusal to get rid of their nuclear weapons,” Dr Wareham concluded.