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The Prospects for Uranium Enrichment in Australia - Correcting the Record

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Media Release

Media Release

Statement from Mr John Carlson,
Director-General, Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation

It has been claimed that I have "admitted that we will
have uranium enrichment in Australia"(Nuke deal with
Russia very close
, Sunday Mail, 17 June 2007) This is an
inaccurate reflection of what I actually said on this subject, and
I wish to correct the record.

This claim is based on a report by the Russian news agency, Ria
Novosti, published on 5 June. In my interview with Ria
Novosti I made the following points:

  • the
    Prime Minister has noted the possibility of value-adding to
    Australia's uranium exports by enriching uranium in
  • however, there are a number of uncertainties, including
    Australia's lack of an established enrichment technology and
    the licence costs for imported technology, whether there would be
    investors prepared to outlay the substantial capital costs
    involved, and whether a State government would be willing to host
    an enrichment facility.

This discussion was condensed in the Ria Novosti report to
"I think our principle is to have enrichment in
Australia" (in response to the question whether Australia
might invest in an enrichment plant in Russia) and "the issue
of enrichment was a long way into the future because of several
stumbling blocks, in particular the lack of enrichment technology
in Australia".

Even in this abbreviated version, this is a long way from
"admitting that we will have uranium enrichment in

In fact the Government has made it clear that no decisions have
been taken on whether Australia might have a uranium enrichment
industry in the future. This is one of the matters discussed
in the Switkowski Report which is under study.

Regarding the proposed new Australia-Russia nuclear agreement,
as Mr Downer announced on 27 April, this will allow Australian
uranium producers to supply Russia's expanding nuclear power
industry. The agreement will be similar to Australia's
other bilateral safeguards agreements, particularly the agreements
concluded with China last year. The agreement will be subject
to the normal Parliamentary and public review process after it is

Media Inquiries: DFAT Media Liaison on 02 6261 1555

Last Updated: 19 September 2014
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