France to provide India with nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technologies

Nov 30, 2011 12:00 AM

France will provide sensitive enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to India despite recent guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) stipulating that only those nations which are signatories to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) can obtain this technology. India has refused to sign the Treaty saying that it was discriminatory.
This assurance came from none other than the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of France, Bernard Bigot, during a media session. His statement assumes significance in the context of India securing a “clean waiver” in September 2008 from the 46-member NSG to enter into nuclear commerce with various countries, despite the fact that India is not a part of the NPT regime.

However, following the “clean waiver”, the NSG declared that only those nations which have signed the NPT will be entitled to ENR. This new rule came in for scathing attack from India’s nuclear fraternity, including former chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar.
“We are committed to the intergovernmental agreement between India and France. We will stand by the NSG exception to India and we have accepted that India will not sign the NPT,” said Bigot.

About Japan hesitating to supply a critical component for the European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) to be built by the French firm Areva at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Bigot said that an agreement has to be reached between India and Japan on this issue.
“I was in Japan recently and the officials said that they were willing to discuss the issue with India,” he said, referring to Japan’s earlier reluctance to cooperate because India is not a NPT signatory. He added that if the component cannot be obtained from Japan, France will source it elsewhere, noting that the component would be less costly in Japan.

Bigot revealed that an interim report released by the French nuclear safety regulatory authorities on November 10 called for no changes in the design of the EPRs, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.
“They are absolutely safe and can withstand extreme stress,” he said.

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