Sarkozy backs India for nuclear suppliers’ group (Third Lead)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BANGALORE - Nearly a month after the US backed India’s bid to join top non-proliferation groupings, French President Nicolas Sarkozy Saturday declared support for New Delhi’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and underlined the growing importance of nuclear energy for the country.

Supporting India’s candidacy to join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), Sarkozy said it made sense for the country to participate in the work of multilateral bodies responsible for drafting and ensuring compliance with the non-proliferation regime.

“France was first to say in 1998 that it was time to put an end to India’s nuclear isolation, as it was absurd to prevent such a country from developing its civilian nuclear sector,” Sarkozy said at the Satellite Centre of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) here.

“France, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom have already signed agreements with India. Others will also soon join them,” Sarkozy said.

“That’s why it makes sense for India to now participate fully in the work of the multilateral bodies responsible for drafting and ensuring compliance with the non-proliferation regime, starting with the Nuclear Suppliers Group. France supports Indias candidacy to join these groups,” he said.

Sarkozy, who began his four-day India visit here Saturday, declared that nuclear energy would be the focus of cooperation between the two countries in the years ahead.

“Nuclear energy will now be the focus of our cooperation. We all know how critical it is for India to ensure its energy security,” Sarkozy told about 500 invitees at ISRO, comprising top scientists, captains of industry and students.

Noting that the bilateral civil nuclear agreement signed in Paris Sep 30, 2008, became a reality a decade after France initiated the move to end India’s nuclear isolation, Sarkozy said his country was starting research, training and plant safety programmes for the Indian scientists and engineers.

“For instance, by participating in the construction of the Jaitapur plant (in Maharasthra), the French firm Areva is becoming a key partner in India’s nuclear energy sector,” Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy also declared that in the next phase of cooperation, the six Indo-French European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) plants will provide 10,000 MW of non-polluting energy to the economy to the maximum benefit of manufacturing facilities.

He underlined that both the countries shared the belief that nuclear energy could provide an unparalleled response to this challenge.

“The decision to rely on nuclear energy has turned out to be visionary, as it ensures our energy independence and provides us with energy that does not emit greenhouse gases,” Sarkozy said in his 25-minute address.

Lauding India’s decision to expand its nuclear industry over tenfold during the next two decades to meet growing demand for power from all sectors of the economy, the 55-year-old president said that about 80 percent (62,000mw) of electricity in France was generated from nuclear energy annually.

“We have decided to build two new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) power plants, which are now favoured by India, as China and Finland did earlier,” Sarkozy told the gathering, which included his glamorous wife Carla Bruni and a large French delegation accompanying him on his second visit to India in three years.

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