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France will follow US N-lead

India and France are close to an accord on cooperating in developing N-energy, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury. Pics

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 03:39 IST

French President Jacques Chirac’s visit to the country has “significantly boosted” India's chances to acquire long-denied nuclear technology, and India and France are “close to concluding a bilateral agreement” to cooperate in developing nuclear energy "for peaceful purposes", say sources.

But the import of nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel will depend on the successful conclusion of the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement. Only after it is done can France, a key member of the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), begin to actually transfer nuclear technology to India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the international community that India would adhere to safeguards on all civilian nuclear facilities procured in the future through international cooperation.

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“I confirm that all facilities procured by India through international cooperation on civilian nuclear energy will of course be subjected to that (IAEA safeguards),” he said at a joint press conference with Chirac.

India was committed to honour the Indo-US joint statement on civil nuclear cooperation “in letter and spirit”, the PM said shortly after India and France signed a declaration on ‘the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes’.

“India and France look forward to adjustment of international civil nuclear cooperation framework with respect to India and confirm their intention to work to that end so that the agreement can be implemented fully,” the declaration said.

France to wait for Washington nod

The July 18 Indo-US civil nuclear agreement calls for Washington to work with members of the NSG to amend international regulations as a one-time exception for India, which is not a signatory to the NPT.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 13:10 IST