CANBERRA — The Australian Labor Party has just endorsed, albeit narrowly, Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s call to lift the contentious policy of the ban on uranium sales to India, although the latter is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
New Delhi’s position is that this is a matter for Australians to decide, Australia’s uranium is not crucial to India’s peaceful nuclear program, but the bilateral relationship can hardly be expected to progress to any sort of strategic level as long as the ban remains in place for India while exports are possible to China.
Under founding Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s formative influence, India’s nuclear policy used to be that of a disarmament champion informed by a strategic vision.
By contrast, its policy as a nuclear-armed state since 1998 has been ad hoc and episodic. As a disarmament crusader, India was the foremost critic of the NPT-centered nuclear apartheid regime. As a non-NPT nuclear armed state, India has been steadily — and at times stealthily — integrating with the global nuclear orders.
As disarmament leader, India was among the first to demand a global ban on nuclear testing. As a non-NPT nuclear-armed state, India refuses to sign the NPT even while maintaining a voluntary moratorium on testing.