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Friday, August 24, 2007

Kasparov Warns Australia not to Sell Nuke Material to Russia

Australia's Bulletin magazine (analagous to the American Newsweek) reports on Russia's insidious efforts to get nuclear fuel from Australia (we have commentary running on Publius Pundit about this topic and have written about it here before):

Australia will share blame if yellow cake sold to Russia ends in the wrong hands, ex-chess champion says.

One of Russia's most prominent Opposition political figures, former chess champion Garry Kasparov, has warned the Howard Government that Russia cannot be trusted to use Australian uranium solely to power its domestic energy industry. In an exclusive interview with The Bulletin on the eve of APEC, Kasparov says Australia will have to accept moral responsibility if Russia on-sells the uranium to a rogue state or uses it for other non-civil purposes. "Should Australian uranium end up in the wrong hands ... Australia will not be able to act innocent or to claim ignorance," he told The Bulletin. During the APEC forum meeting in Sydney next month it is understood the deal between the two countries to export about 2000 tonnes of Australian yellow cake annually (providing about one third of Russia's imported uranium stock) will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and John Howard. Russian investigative journalist Grigory Pasko, who was jailed in Siberia after revealing the Russian Naval Fleet had dumped nuclear waste in the Pacific, will also be in Sydney next week arguing that Australia must impose tougher safeguards on any uranium sales to Russia. The demand for uranium worldwide, particularly in energy-poor countries like India and China, has seen the share price for uranium companies more than double in the last two years. Australia now has more than 200 companies whose main business is uranium exploration. Australian Uranium Association chief executive Michael Angwin says spending on exploration is set to pass $100 million this year, up from $77 million last year. "There has been a ten-fold increase in the last four years," Angwin says. The reason for the hype is simple. The ALP dropped its no-new mines policy earlier this year and close on its heels, the Federal Government flagged a possible expansion of the nuclear power industry in Australia."There is a high level of confidence in the fact that Australia has a much more liberal framework for industry to operate in," Angwin says

Download a copy of the full Bulletin interview here (courtesy of Robert Amsterdam).

As the Epoch Times reports, lawyer and blogger Robert Amsterdam is also sounding the warning call. Way to go, Robert! Pasko, Amsterdam and Kasparov is a formidable trio, to be sure!

"All Australians should be concerned about advanced talks to sell uranium to Russia," wrote British Lawyer Robert R Amsterdam in an article published in the Herald Sun on August 20.

Defence counsel for jailed Russian millionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mr Amsterdam cautioned the Australian Government over an expected uranium deal next month between Canberra and the Kremlin. "When negotiating the Russia-Australia Nuclear Safeguards Agreement, the Howard Government must consider the Kremlin's track record," he wrote. "Australia should be very careful not to rush into a deal without rigorous rules and safeguards relating to the use and enrichment of uranium and the development of nuclear technologies."

As evidence of the regime's attitude towards the nuclear issue he pointed out that the Kremlin imprisoned a journalist for reporting on Russia's illegal dumping of nuclear waste in the Pacific Ocean. Mr Amsterdam also noted that; "When the United States and Europe wished to defend themselves against the possibility of rogue missiles from Asia, President Putin threatened to point Russian nuclear missiles at London, Paris and Berlin."

"Moscow sells nuclear technology to Iran and has agreed to build a nuclear research centre in Burma," he noted. Foreign policy in Russia, he stated, is governed with a firm hand. He gave examples of gas and oil pipelines to neighbouring countries being shut off and trade embargoes. In his article Mr Amsterdam also described the current regime run by former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. "By 2003, a powerful group of former intelligence and military strongmen had succeeded in taking control of Putin's Kremlin power base," he stated. "Democratic pluralists and market economists were pushed out or marginalised. Political opposition was crushed. "Most major news media were bought out. The country's energy resources were brought under Kremlin control," he wrote. "Neighbours are bullied and long-time business partners are extorted. Opponents are jailed, such as former Yukos oil company boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or killed. "A belief has taken root that Russia is entitled to assert itself aggressively and above the law if need be," he stated. "No one is above the extortion tactics of the Kremlin and its selective application and misapplication of laws."

It is also expected when Vladimir Putin arrives for the APEC meetings next month, along with a nuclear deal he will also sign an economic accord which The Age reports will allow for increased Russian investment in Australia, particularly in the mining and minerals sector.

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