Aus under fire following reports on uranium sale

Melbourne: Australian government on Thursday came under criticism for its "double game" in the wake of reports that secret US cables passed to WikiLeaks have revealed that Canberra could sell uranium to India within years despite the ruling Labor`s policy of not supplying it to non-NPT States.

The disclosure has prompted the Greens party to seek answers from the Labor to explain if it secretly supported uranium sale to India.

According to the `Sydney Morning Herald`, US cables passed to WikiLeaks revealed that Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told US officials in 2009 that a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached within years, a posturing that contradicts the present stand of banning it against India for not signing Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Greens nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlum said it appeared the government was playing a "double game".

"I swear some days you can smell the uranium on Martin Ferguson`s breath," he was quoted as saying by local media.

The Greens were now demanding that the government make a statement of clarification to Parliament.

Labor Senator Doug Cameron said Australia should not entertain the idea of trading uranium with India until it met international obligations.

The opposition Liberal party, which supports uranium sale to India, said it was encouraged by signs that the government appeared more flexible on the issue.

"It finally seems that the Labor party is showing some common sense on this issue," the opposition`s resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane said, adding that it made no sense not to sell uranium to India.

India has been lobbying the Australian Government to overturn its ban on uranium sales. The issue had also figured during External Affairs Minister S M Krishna`s recent visit here.

Australia controls the world`s largest known resources of uranium and is the third largest producer of the yellow cake after Kazakhstan and Canada.