The chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has said that current Australian political opposition to nuclear power is expected to change in a few years, as it represents the only option to counter climate change, Bloomberg reported.

Ziggy Switkowski said he believes that Australians are now beginning to realise that nuclear power is necessary to reduce reliance on burning fossil fuels.

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who opposes building nuclear reactors, has a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2000 levels by 2050.

Switkowski in 2006 headed a government-ordered enquiry into the viability of nuclear power in Australia, which found that the first reactor could start up within 15 years and that 25 may be built by 2050, producing 30% of the nation’s electricity.

“The Australian position in not allowing nuclear power in the mix seems to be a bit illogical,” Switkowski said.

He added that Australia should have a nuclear power station within 15 years, probably built alongside an existing coal-fired plant.

Western Australia has as much as 10% of the world’s known uranium reserves, worth about A$40bn ($33bn), according to an estimate from the federal government.

Uranium demand may rise as the number of nuclear power reactors is expected to increase 30% by 2020, driven by India and China, according to estimates by the World Nuclear Association.