The Australian Government announced yesterday it is to start talks with China on a bilateral nuclear co-operation agreement.
"I am pleased to announce Australia will formally commence negotiations on a nuclear co-operation agreement with China," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement.
"The deal will establish safeguard arrangements to ensure Australian uranium supplied to China is used exclusively for peaceful purposes," he said.
The two countries have already held exploratory talks on the proposed agreement, according to Downer.
Australia has an estimated 40 per cent of the world's low-cost uranium resources, while China has great energy needs to fuel its rapid economic development.
"Opening up this export opportunity with China is consistent with the growing trade and economic relationship between our two countries, and Australia's position as a secure supplier of energy resources," he said.
Australia has signed 19 nuclear agreements with 36 countries.
(Photo: The on-building Tianwan nuclear power plant in East China's Jiangsu Province is seen in this file photo taken on January 11, 2005.)