Melbourne: Nearly a year after it reversed its policy of not supplying uranium to India, Australian government has, however, said the sale will not start quickly and even a safeguard agreement is likely to take one or two years. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is on a three-day visit to India, hosed down any suggestions that uranium sale to India will start quickly. Negotiating a safeguard agreement is likely to take one or two years, rather than months, she was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
In New Delhi, Gillard, while attending a function on Tuesday, said she would be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday, adding that her Labor party has changed its previous position of not selling uranium to India, while noting that it will happen under a comprehensive civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
Earlier Gillard, undertaking her maiden India visit as Prime Minister, deflected criticism of future uranium exports and said Australia knew how to negotiate a proper agreement to ensure uranium was used for peaceful purposes. India is the world's biggest liberal democracy and it is in its interests to have the most robust safety standards. She also said the ruling Labor's previous stance against the sale was becoming an obstacle in bilateral ties. "I think India is a wonderful example of everything we have been talking about as the possibilities of the Asian century," another newspaper 'The Australian' quoted her as saying.
She said she was sure the uranium issue would be raised during her talks with the Indian leadership. Gillard won a major victory last December when the Labor party's national conference voted to overturn a longstanding prohibition on uranium sale to India, which is not a signatory to NPT.