International development banks must finance civilian nuclear projects to help emerging nations build energy plants, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday, laying out ambitious plans to develop the industry.
"I do not understand and I do not accept the ostracisation of nuclear projects by international financing," Sarkozy told a major conference on nuclear energy.
France is one of the world's largest users of nuclear energy, generating 80 percent of its power consumption from a network of 58 nuclear reactors, and is actively seeking to sell its nuclear technology to countries around the world.
Sarkozy said the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other such institutions should make a "wholehearted commitment" to fund civilian nuclear energy programmes.
"It is a scandal that international organisations today do not finance nuclear projects," he said. "The current situation means that countries are condemned to rely on more costly energy that causes greater pollution."
In an effort to make nuclear energy more attractive to potential buyers, Sarkozy said he also wanted a change in international laws to allow nuclear producers to benefit from carbon credits that are currently denied to the industry.
"I propose that CO2 credits be used to finance all forms of decarbonised energy under the new global architecture after 2013," he told an audience of nuclear experts gathered at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
FOCUS ON FUEL AND TRAINING
Some 56 nuclear reactors are under construction around the world and the United Nations says that over the next 20 years more than 20 states, including emerging economies, could put into service their first reactor for civilian energy.
It also estimates that some 60 countries are considering nuclear programmes.
Among the measures needed to promote the development of the industry, Sarkozy said he wanted to see better training and steps to secure the supply of nuclear fuel.
He proposed creating an International Nuclear Energy Institute in France.
"It will bring together the best teachers and researchers to provide very high quality education," he said.
He also put forward a plan to set up a fuel bank under the authority of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, which would step in when fuel supplies were interrupted.
Only countries that respected non-proliferation treaties would be able to benefit from such international infrastructure.
"One cannot ask for civil nuclear energy cooperation, with the long-term partnership and responsibility that it entails, and then renege on international obligations," he said, in a clear reference to Iran, which is locked in conflict with the West over its controversial nuclear programme.