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UPDATED: 14:34, November 15, 2006
Australia says no objection to selling uranium to Indonesia
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A security agreement signed by Indonesia and Australia earlier this week has provided a basis for Indonesia to buy uranium from Australia for a planned nuclear power plant, according to a local media Wednesday.

Local newspaper The Jakarta Post quoted Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer as saying that the provision about the nuclear industry was a very important step forward for the two countries, which have pledged to support the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"If Indonesia wants to proceed with a civil nuclear power program, and if Indonesia wants to buy uranium from Australia, then Indonesia and Australia will have to negotiate a separate nuclear safeguard agreement," the minister said.

One provision of the agreement specifies that both countries will "strengthen bilateral nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes, including to further the objective of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and strengthen international nuclear safety and security through enhanced standards ...," he added.

Downer said that once a safeguard agreement is in place, Australia, which holds 40 percent of the world's known uranium reserves, would have no objection to selling uranium to Indonesia.

Indonesia first signed an international non-proliferation treaty in 1971, and since then it has committed to a safeguard agreement and other treaties designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

Indonesia has long wanted to build nuclear power plants to diversify its energy sources. Its initial plans were shelved in 1997 in the face of mounting public opposition and the discovery and exploitation of the large Natuna gas field.

But the plans were floated again last year as the country's oil and gas reserves continue to run thin while it faces mounting power shortages.

Indonesia is now preparing a legal framework for a nuclear industry to make sure that its nuclear plants can begin operation by 2017.

Source: Xinhua

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