Alexander Downer's comments on Sunday dashed hopes in New Delhi that the stance could be softened to help India meet its soaring energy needs.

Downer said he would not change Australia's 30-year-old policy of not exporting uranium to treaty non-signatories.

"There's no basis at this stage for us changing that policy now," he told ABC Television.

No policy change

"We don't have any intention at this stage to change our policy in relation to uranium exports to those three countries, which are India, Pakistan and Israel, that haven't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

India's request to buy uranium from Australia, which has almost half the world's known supply, followed a landmark deal between India and the United States on civil nuclear energy, reached during a visit this month by George Bush, the US president.

John Howard, the Australian prime minister, during a visit to India last week, made positive noises about the US agreement and left officials upbeat on the prospect of expanding a nuclear energy industry which accounts for just 3% of his country's output.

Downer said he was still keen to see the finer details of the US-Indian nuclear technology trading agreement.