India and France have concluded negotiations on a bilateral agreement for civilian nuclear cooperation, but stopped short of signing it due to domestic and international sensitivities.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday that India was hopeful of concluding a safeguards agreement with the IAEA without “further loss of time”.
<b1>“This agreement (on civil nuclear cooperation) will form the basis of wide ranging bilateral cooperation from basic and applied research to full civil nuclear cooperation, including reactors, fuel supply and management,” a joint statement said.
Using language similar to that contained in the Indo-US nuclear deal, the two countries agreed, “As responsible states with nuclear technologies, including in the nuclear fuel cycle, France and India are interested to promote nuclear energy with the highest standards of security in accordance with their respective nuclear policies and international obligations.”
The Department of Atomic Energy and the French Atomic Energy Commission signed an agreement to allow Indian participation in the Jules Horowitz (research) Reactor, which will be built in Cadarache, France.
“One must recognise that international negotiations do take time,” Singh told reporters at a joint press conference with Sarkozy. “Our discussions in the International Atomic Energy Agency are moving forward. It is our sincere hope that they can be concluded successfully without further delay.”
Sarkozy said he did not want to get involved in India’s domestic political debate on the nuclear deal with the US, but if New Delhi did not go for nuclear energy it would opt for more polluting energy sources. The President was hopeful that India would get a “waiver” from IAEA within weeks.
"There’s a potential in India (to set up) 20 nuclear plants,” Sarkozy said at Hyderabad House.
France and India also decided to step up “operational contacts” to face the common threat posed by extremism and terrorism worldwide. “I think it is very important that India and France should cooperate, share information and intelligence gathering for defence of the values, which are dear to both our countries,” Singh stated.
“We have agreed to go beyond a buyer-seller relationship (in military field). We will increasingly focus on joint research and development projects, transfer of technology and greater military exchanges,” he stressed.
The two sides also signed an agreement on protecting classified defense information, which the PM believed “reaffirmed our strong mutual desire to further strengthen our strategic partnership”. India and France also set an ambitious trade target of 12 billion euros by 2012.