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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

India, France ink nuclear deal, first after NSG waiver

India on Tuesday emerged out of a 34-year-old nuclear isolation and signed a historic agreement for civil nuclear cooperation with France. With this pact, France became the first country to enter into a formal understanding with India after the Nuclear Suppliers Group exempted India from its guidelines earlier this month.

The agreement, which was finalised in January when French President Nicholas Sarkozy visited India as chief guest for the Republic Day, was signed this afternoon by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Department of Atomic Energy head Anil Kakodkar on the Indian side.

But the agreement can be operationalised only after India signs the already concluded safeguards agreement with IAEA. Though technically India already has six reactors under safeguards for which cooperation can begin, a call on this has still not been taken and partners like France first need to agree. The best case scenario for India would be to have three agreements with US, France and Russia sealed in the next two months and then sign the safeguards agreement.

“Today we have added a new dimension to our strategic partnership... France is the first country with whom we have entered into such an agreement after lifting of international restrictions on civil nuclear cooperation with India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. I conveyed to President Sarkozy our gratitude for France’s consistent support to our civil nuclear initiative,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

(Source: Indian Express)

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