Solidarity Statement from Australia against the Uranium Deal

Dear Bhargavi Dilipkumar, Kumar Sundaram and the people of Jaitapur, Kudankulam, Kovvada, Mithivirdi, Kaiga, Chutka, Rawatbhatta, Fatehabad, Tarapur and Kalpakkam,

We write to you in solidarity against the uranium trade deal that has been negotiated by the Indian and Australian Governments since 2012. When Tony Abbott seeks to seal the deal with Narendra Modi to export Australian uranium to your country, he does so against the wishes of two-thirds of the Australian population.

Poster Against Tony AbbottWe demand that the uranium export deal between India and Australia be abandoned, and that Australia cease all uranium exports. It is a small but highly hazardous industry here and we do not wish for our country to leave a radioactive legacy upon yours. We know that Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima disaster and has now irrevocably changed and contaminated Japan. Yvonne Margarula, on behalf of the Mirarr people, Traditional Aboriginal Owners for the area where the Ranger uranium mine is located, wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. She expressed deep regret for the harm caused by radioactive rocks from her country: “This is an industry that we have never supported in the past and that we want no part of into the future. We are all diminished by the awful events now unfolding at Fukushima.”

We are aware of the harm suffered by Indigenous people, workers and the poor at the hands of the nuclear industry in India. We are aware of the well-documented chronic illnesses suffered by the people living near the Jadugoda uranium mine. We are aware of the brutal state repression of peoples’ movements against nuclear, one example being the people of Idinthakerai, living under the shadow of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. We are aware of the inadequacy of labour laws and environmental protection regulations.

We are dismayed by the dogged determination of the Indian Government to expand its nuclear weapons program. We are equally dismayed by the Australian Government’s determination to supply India with uranium, knowing full well that it will enable India to use more of its domestic uranium reserves for weapons production. The former head of the national security advisory board in India, K. Subrahmanyam, said in 2005: “Given India’s uranium ore crunch and the need to build up our … nuclear deterrent arsenal as fast as possible, it is to India’s advantage to categorise as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refuelled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons-grade plutonium production.”

This is the first time that Australia will sell uranium to a country that hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is actively engaged in an arms race. While all of Australia’s uranium exports fuel a dangerous industry, the Australia-India deal further erodes any semblance of responsibility­.

The Australia-India deal is often justified as bringing electricity to the rural poor of India to aid their development. We know that the nuclear industry of India serves the interests of the elite and does not deliver what it promises to the people. We acknowledge that like Australia, it is the Indigenous people of India who bear the brunt of the industry. We are inspired by the determined and popular resistance to nuclear projects in India.

The future of energy is renewable, not radioactive, and we want to see our countries cooperating on renewable energy technology projects. Australian uranium bound for India is destined to become radioactive waste, radioactive fallout or facilitate nuclear weapons. The burden of this risk is unacceptable and we demand that the Australia-India uranium deal be abandoned.

In solidarity and for a nuclear free future,

Friends of the Earth
Environment Centre Northern Territory
Beyond Nuclear Initiative
Uranium Free NSW
Medical Association for Prevention of War
Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Operations Watch Port Adelaide
Conservation Council of Western Australia
Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation
Australian Conservation Foundation
Public Health Association of Australia
Queensland Nuclear Fee Alliance
People for Nuclear Disarmament W.A.

Join discussion: leave a comment