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Federal Ministers wrong on nuclear power

A coalition of environment and public heath groups today released a report challenging the argument - most recently put forward by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Treasurer Peter Costello - that nuclear power is 'clean' and a potential fix for climate change.

The report, 'Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change', was launched at Parliament House, Canberra, by former Australian Ambassador to South Korea and nuclear proliferation expert Professor Richard Broinowski.

"If it sells uranium to India and China, the Howard government will be flouting two crucial conditions under which Australian uranium exports have been subject: buyer nations must be signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and they must allow international inspection of their reactors," Prof Broinowski said. "India is not a signatory to the NPT and China indicates it won't allow inspections of its reactors. How dangerously irresponsible can we get?"

While Cabinet Ministers Costello, Downer, Nelson and Macfarlane - the "Four Toxic Tenors" - are singing the uranium industry's song, a growing number of Australians are cautioning the Government against deeper involvement in the dangerous nuclear chain.

Dr Jim Green, author of the report and national nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth said: "Nuclear power is no solution to climate change. A doubling of global nuclear power output by 2050 would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by just 5% - less than one tenth of the reduction required. Nuclear plants are potential bomb factories. Four or five countries have developed arsenals of nuclear weapons using their 'peaceful' nuclear facilities - India, Israel, South Africa, Pakistan and possibly North Korea. Nuclear power reactors have produced enough plutonium to build 160,000 nuclear weapons."

Mark Wakeham from Greenpeace said: "This report shows that energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources can deliver the large reductions in greenhouse pollution required without the dangers associated with nuclear power. It's time to shift from dangerous and dirty fuel sources - coal and nuclear - to a clean energy future."

David Noonan from the Australian Conservation Foundation said: "The real nuclear agenda is to double Australia's uranium exports. Our safeguards and proliferation responsibilities look set to be fatally compromised to suit BHP Billiton's expansion plans for Roxby Downs."

The report has been produced by Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, the Public Health Association of Australia and Climate Action Network Australia. It is also endorsed by the peak conservation groups in the four states being targeted by the uranium mining industry - the Environment Centre of the NT, the Conservation Council of SA, the Conservation Council of WA and the Queensland Conservation Council.