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IR Working Paper 2009/1 (PDF, 193KB)
Stuart Harris, ‘Australia as a Supplier of Uranium to the Asian Region: Implications’, IR Working Paper 2009/1, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Affairs, The Australian National University, July 2009.
Significant interest in Australia’s uranium export industry has re-emerged in the face of increased energy demand, fears of eventual reduced supplies of traditional energy sources, further evidence of global climate change and prospective higher electricity prices. This paper examines how Australia will respond to that renewed interest and how it seeks to balance its economic and environmental interests with its traditional nuclear non-proliferation activism.
Australia’s uranium is most likely to continue to be exported in the form of yellowcake and the immediate economic benefits are potentially substantial. The development of the nuclear cycle in the region has long-term implications, however, because of the dilemma that Australia faces from the added use and production of fissile material in the region. Given Australia’s dependence on the International Atomic Energy Agency and its safeguards regime, the implications of a failed 2010 NPT Review Conference would be especially serious. Changing US attitudes will help as would some regional consensus in support of the non-proliferation regime.