Melbourne, Australia: Wednesday 03 September 2014: Australian and Indian medical doctors have urged a re-think on planned uranium sales ahead of Prime Minister Abbott’s visit to India on Thursday 4th September 2014. The doctors recently met on 27 -29 August at the congress of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNWi) in Astana, Kazakhstan and represent Indian Doctors for Peace and Development and the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia).
The doctors have called on PM Abbott to not formalise the uranium sales deal because of the following critical issues:
- The negative impact the proposed sale would have on the already tense security situation between nuclear-armed neighbours and rivals India and Pakistan;
- India’s growing nuclear arsenal and continued production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, the materials for nuclear weapons, especially given that many Indian nuclear facilities are not subject to safeguards inspections;
- Current nuclear reactor safety concerns in India, as highlighted in a 2012 Indian Auditor-General’s report that was highly critical of the sector’s safety and regulatory record.
The IPPNWi doctors are concerned that selling uranium to India, a nuclear armed state that is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPTi), would weaken efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons. Indian officials have previously indicated that with imported uranium they can reserve their own uranium for their weapons program. The doctors also dismissed recent comments by the Indian and Australian governments that nuclear power will provide electricity to India’s poorest citizens. Despite decades of investment and grand claims, nuclear power provides only 2% of India’s electricity, and India’s poor have severely limited access to electricity.
“Nuclear power is definitely not the answer to poverty in India or even part of it; there needs instead to be far greater and faster implementation of renewable energy resources, and the Indian government should focus on this”, said Dr Arun Mitra of Indian Doctors for Peace and Development. “The health impacts of nuclear power are too great and the Indian government pays too little concern to nuclear safety generally”.
Dr Mitra cited the Indian governments lack of action over persistent concerns that the Jadugoda uranium mine in Jharkhand state is associated with severe health problems for the local people and the clear need for independent health studies of the region. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 plans for nuclear power in India have been fiercely contested with many Indians protesting against proposed nuclear facilities.
“Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima and we can’t afford to fuel the next nuclear conflict or nuclear accident,” said Australian radiologist and nuclear adviser Dr Peter Karamoskos. “As doctors we know that prevention is better than cure and Australia should reconsider its uranium supply deal with India”.
Call Phyllis Campbell-McRae on 0431 475 465
Dr Peter Karamoskos on 0403 125 507