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Australia joins US-initiated Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at a meeting in Vienna on 16 Sep: plans to build build nuclear reactors

Posted by gmarkets on 4 October, 2007

Mark Bishop, Senator for Western Australia, Shadow Minister for Defence, Australian Labor Party, Commonwealth Senate, 18 September 2007 asked if “Australia to joining a group that will see nuclear fuel leased to countries, then returned to fuel suppliers for reprocessing and then potentially stored in other members’ countries?.. after the Liberal Party Federal Council, in June this year, overwhelmingly voted in support of establishing a nuclear waste dump in Australia to take spent fuel from other countries?”.

Nuclear policy explained, sort-of: Senator Coonan replied to say “The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is a US initiative which seeks to develop a worldwide consensus allowing for expanded use of nuclear energy, whilst strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime.” Coonan said:

• Australia joined the United States initiated Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at a meeting in Vienna on 16 September;

• concluded a joint nuclear energy action plan with the United States on 3 September.

Plan to build nuclear reactor: “Australia supported the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership goal of enabling expanded use of nuclear energy while strengthening nuclear non-proliferation, and Australia has clear interests as a major uranium producer and a strong supporter of the non-proliferation regime. It also provides the framework for Australia’s technical involvement in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and the Generation IV program to develop advanced nuclear reactors.

But will not import waste, says Coonan: Claims that joining the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership requires Australia to accept other countries’ spent nuclear fuel or endorse their programs, or indeed to accept radioactive waste, are in fact dead wrong. There is no such requirement. The government’s policy is and will remain not to accept other countries’ spent nuclear fuel or nuclear waste”. However Coonan avoided saying that Australia might take back waste from Australia’s exported uranium, used in plants overseas. “Australia does not accept nuclear waste from other countries and this prohibition is enacted in law.”

Weapons and fuel manufacture in Australia: Bishop asked “Can the minister confirm the government has been in discussions with companies interested in setting up an enrichment industry in Australia which, under GNEP, would commit us to taking back nuclear fuel used in other countries? Didn’t the director of one such company state recently that its plans would only go ahead under a coalition government?

Reference: Mark Bishop, Senator for Western Australia, Shadow Minister for Defence, Australian Labor Party, Commonwealth Senate, 18 September 2007; Helen Coonan, Senator for New South Wales, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts & Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Liberal Party of Australia, Commonwealth Senate, 18 September 2007

Erisk Net, 17/9/2007, p. 16-17

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