Australia would be "foolish" not to consider using nuclear energy, given its vast reserves of uranium, Prime Minister John Howard said Saturday, giving his strongest hint yet the government planned to kick-start an atomic energy industry.
"Nuclear power is potentially the cleanest and greenest of them all," Howard said in a speech to the Queensland state branch of his Liberal Party.
"And we would be foolish, from the national interest point of view, with our vast resources of uranium, to say that we are not going to consider nuclear power," he said.
Australia is one of the world's biggest producers of uranium, the ore used to fire nuclear reactors, but has only one reactor, a small medical facility.
Nuclear issues have been contentious in Australia for years because many people are worried about the dangers of radiation and how to dispose of nuclear waste.
But Howard said growing concern about global warming caused by the burning of greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels to make electricity was causing people to rethink their opposition to nuclear energy.