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Parliament must scrutinise Russia uranium deal

Australian Greens Climate Change Spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, today called on Prime Minister Howard and Foreign Minister Downer to give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise the deal to be signed today to sell uranium to Russia.

Senator Milne said "Selling Australian uranium to Russia could be one of the most profound strategic mistakes in Australian history. And yet, just as with sending troops into Iraq, it seems that the Government has no intention to allow Parliament to scrutinise the decision.

"The Greens will move in the Senate on Monday for a detailed Senate Inquiry into this deal. We must allow time for Australia's top strategic minds, as well as the Australian people at large, to give their considered opinion on such a profound decision.

"On a day when reports emerged once again that Russia has struck a deal to sell nuclear fuel to Iran, Mr Howard and Mr Downer are bending over backwards to sell Australian uranium into this volatile middle eastern mix.

"The deal with Iran, alongside Mr Putin's ambitions to corner 25% of the world's nuclear fuel market, should put the Australia-Russia deal into perspective.

"The Putin administration has overseen a disturbing return to authoritarianism in Russia. In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in suppression of dissent, muzzling of the media and NGOs, gaoling and torturing of dissenters.

"The sale of uranium to a country whose government demonstrably has such little respect for human rights or the rule of law should be unthinkable. But that is exactly what our government and potential government are planning to do.

"Real, responsible Australian leadership would make the world a safer place by refusing to dig up and sell our uranium, developing and exporting high-value renewable energy technologies instead. That is what the Greens would do.

"The Greens, like the majority of Australians, do not support the decision to sell uranium to Russia. We have no confidence in Mr Howard's obscene rush to facilitate mining company profits at the expense of global security and the environment.

"Greed is not a family value."

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