Australia to Sign Civil Nuclear Deal with India: Tony Abbott
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in July.Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he hoped to sign a deal this week to sell uranium to nuclear-armed India for peaceful power generation, but has halted uranium exports to Russia over Moscow's role in Ukraine.

Abbott is due to fly into India on 4 September for his first visit to the subcontinent after assuming power a year ago.

Energy-starved India, where coal-fired power plants supply about 70% of the country's electricity, is looking to reduce its dependence on the fossil fuel.

A nuclear deal will aid New Delhi's efforts to boost nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032, from 4,780 MW at present, at an estimated cost of $85bn (£51.5bn, €64.7bn).

Russia Ban

Meanwhile, the ban on uranium sales to Russia came two days after Canberra announced fresh sanctions against Russia over what Abbott termed its "bullying" of neighbouring Ukraine.

Moscow has been accused of backing pro-Russian insurgent groups battling the government in Kiev.

"I am hoping to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement that will enable uranium sales by Australia to India," Abbot told parliament on 3 September, Reuters reported.

"There will be no uranium sales to Russia until further notice and Australia has no intention of selling uranium to a country which is so obviously in breach of international law as Russia currently is," Abbot added.

Indian Safeguards

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, on 2 September, said Canberra was satisfied with New Delhi's nuclear safeguards, AFP reported.

India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Canberra had sought guarantees that Australian uranium will only be used for non-military purposes.

Canberra and New Delhi have been working on a nuclear agreement after Australia, the world's third largest uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, lifted a ban on selling uranium to India in 2012.