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Australia to export uranium to Ukraine

Australia to export uranium to Ukraine article image

Australia has signed an agreement to supply uranium to Ukraine – one of the world’s biggest generators of nuclear power.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop signed the agreement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko while attending the global Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

Australia already supplies uranium to Canada, China, France, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the UK and the US.

"This agreement provides Ukraine with the opportunity to diversify its energy supply," Ms Bishop said in a statement.

"All exports of Australian uranium will be subject to internationally agreed security standards and will be strictly controlled to ensure Australian nuclear material is only used for peaceful purposes."

Closer ties

Under the agreement, the use of Australian nuclear material for the development of weapons or explosive devices is strictly prohibited, Ms Bishop added.

Sales to Ukraine, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, would also boost links between the two nations in other nuclear-related activities such as safeguards, security and science.

The new deal could help ease Kiev`s traditional reliance on hostile neighbour Russia for energy, the minister said.

During the visit Ms Bishop was a guest at a dinner meeting at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama.

She also had talks with British, Dutch and Singaporean leaders and foreign minister counterparts.

At the summit, leaders discussed ongoing international co-operation on nuclear security and the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear material or sabotaging nuclear facilities.

Significant contribution

Australia already makes a significant contribution to nuclear security, safeguards and non-proliferation, Ms Bishop said.

In a global review of nuclear security by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Australia has ranked first in the world since 2014 on measures against the theft of nuclear materials.

Australia holds almost a third of the world's uranium resources but supplies only around 10 per cent of global production.

In 2014-15 Australia exported more than 5500 tonnes or uranium generating more than $500 million in export income.

"Access to growing Ukrainian uranium demand creates opportunities for more tonnes, more exports, and more jobs in mine construction and operations," said Daniel Zavattiero, a spokesman for the Minerals Council of Australia.

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