ASHOK B SHARMA
NEW DELHI: The cooperation in nuclear energy sector between India and France reached a news peak on Monday with the signing of five nuke related agreements between the two countries.
In the security and defence sector discussions concerning the upgrading of Mirage 2000 aircraft are expected to be finalised soon. A MoU was signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Centre National D’etudes Spatiales (CNEc) for cooperation in earth science systems and climate study.
The agreements were signed here in the presence of the visiting French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. Sarkozy is leading strong official and business delegation and is accompanied by his wife Carla Sarkozy.
An agreement on film co-production at the ministerial level of both the governments has also been signed.
Both India and France decided to work towards raising bilateral trade to the level of Euro 12 billion by 2010. The bilateral trade in the current year is expected to cross $8 billion mark. The French minister for economy and finance, Christine Lagarde addressing a meeting of Indian industry said: “the Euro 10 billion committed by French business to invest in India between 2008 and 2012 could be a lot more if opportunities come up by the opening of insurance and multi-brand retail sectors. French companies would respond in a rigorous manner. Everything is about give and take, it is a two-way street.”
A MoU was signed between Invest India and Invest in France with a view to boost investments in both the countries. French company Michelin Tyres signed an agreement with Tamil Nadu Government for setting up of a production unit near Chennai at an investment of $ one billion.
The recommendations of the India-France CEOs Forum on increasing investments in the energy, water and infrastructure sectors, establishment of joint ventures in third countries and enhancing collaboration in R&D and higher education are being examined.
Reaffirming France’s support for India’s candidature for a permament seat in the UN Security Council, Sarkozy in a joint press conference said : “UNSC need to be expanded to include India. We cannot exclude one billion inhabitants from the discussions on world issues.”
“We discussed other regional and global issues of common concern, including the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Myanmar, terrorism and climate change,” said the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.
In the field of nuclear energy a general framework agreement has been signed between NPCIL and its French counterpart AREVA for setting up of two reactors of the capacity of 10,000 MW at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. At present the nuclear reactors in the country are of the capacity of only 4,000 MW. An early works agreement has also been signed between NPCIL and AREVA for implementation of EPR NPP units at Jaitapur. The pricing of energy will be negotiated.
With a view to facilitate cooperation in the nuclear energy sector between the two countries, both the governments signed an agreement concerning intellectual property rights on the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Another agreement was signed on the protection of confidentiality of technical data and information relating to cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
A cooperation agreement was signed between the department of atomic energy of India and the Commissariat A L’energie Atomique Et Aux Energies Alternatives (CEA) in the field of nuclear science and technology for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
France played a vital role in the IAEA and NSG during the negotiations on lifting restrictions on civil nuclear cooperation with India. France was the first to sign an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with India in September 2008 after the NSG waiver. It has agreed to support India’s increased participation with international non-proliferation initiatives and full membership of multilateral export control regimes – NSG, MTCR, AG, WA in a manner consistent with procedures and objectives of these groups.
France and India reaffirmed their commitment to diplomatically resolve the Iranian nuclear issue and discussed the need for Iran to take constructive and immediate steps to meet its obligations to the IAEA and UNSC. India and France also expressed concern over the situation in the Korean peninsula and urged North Korea to comply with UNSC and IAEA BoG resolutions.
The French agency CEA has expressed its interest in cooperating with India’s Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership as a means to contributing to multilateral cooperative efforts to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
France and India emphasised the need for an intensified cooperation in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and other areas. Both the countries welcomed the ongoing exercises between their navies (called Varuna) and air forces (called Garuda) and agreed to extend their cooperation through joint exercises between the two armies. It was agreed that the future prospects for joint programmes in defence industry would include joint research and development and transfer of technology. The SRSAM and Kaveri programmes would be launched soon.
Apart from global and regional challenges, cooperation in countering terrorism, cultural exchanges, education and movement of persons were also discussed.