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Foreign minister makes nuclear-sized mistake with China negotiations

Foreign minister makes nuclear-sized mistake with China negotiations article image

Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith has accidentally revealed restricted treaty documents involving bilateral nuclear trade negotiations with China. Smith's department has been in damage control, soothing relations with embassies and high commissions after the minister breached diplomatic confidentiality by tabling the deals in parliament. The documents involved sensitive information about the sale of uranium and the transfer of nuclear material and other nuclear matters. Other information involved increased security protocols in an agreement with the European Commission as well as mutual assistance agreements with several countries including Brazil, India, South Africa and Thailand, to reduce international crime. The Australian Greens called for greater scrutiny of the documents. "The document reveals amendments to Australia's existing nuclear cooperation with China. These are so significant it's doubly important that they are carefully scrutinised as part the usual Joint Standing Committee on Treaties process," said Greens nuclear spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam, and committee member. "The accidental tabling of this material begs the question as to why these negotiations are conducted in secrecy. If there was more transparency and accountability in bilateral treaty negotiations, maybe they would save the Minister from further embarrassment," he said.

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