D’Arcy Hande: The lobby for “relaxed” accountability

Regarding the article, “New market for North’s uranium,” published in Northern Pride on April 23, 2013:

Dear Editor,

Cameco likes to boast that it is interested in uranium sales only for peaceful purposes — “nuclear swords into plowshares” is one byword that has been recently used.  However, we know that the company has lobbied both provincial and federal governments for a relaxation of rules that would hold India and China less accountable for ensuring that Canadian uranium is not used for weapons of mass destruction.  In fact, Australia and Canada have renegotiated uranium export deals with both those countries, such that verification of its ultimate use cannot possibly be monitored.

An article in the Globe and Mail on February 12, 2012, just after the new uranium deal with China was announced, laid out much better than any of the Saskatchewan press chose to do what the dire implications of the deal might be.  As Campbell Clark and Shawn McCarthy explained, “The deal with Beijing has raised concerns in Ottawa, because it includes less stringent accounting for how the uranium is used than Canada typically demands, sources said. When Australia made a similar deal with China in 2008 that included less accountability, it faced criticism from other uranium suppliers, including Canada.  China insisted on getting the same sort of accounting requirements for Canadian exports that it got from Australia. As well as using uranium for other purposes, it also has military nuclear programs, which are not subject to accounting or inspection.”  (Harper relaxes accountability rules for China’s use of uranium)

Let’s be clear on this:  the uranium industry and Premier Brad Wall had lobbied the Harper government hard for over year to see those accountability rules watered down.  In a volatile region of the world, India-Pakistan-China, where geopolitical and military tensions run high, the uranium industry fails to recognize its own purported claims to be selling uranium for peace.  Instead Cameco, AREVA, and other such companies appear to be motivated purely by profit and the expansion of their mining operations in Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

D’Arcy Hande


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