New Delhi: In a major development, the French Parliament has unanimously adopted the civil nuclear agreement between India and France.
The ratification of the Indo-French nuclear deal by the French National Assembly paves the way for France-based companies to construct nuclear power plants in India.
The bilateral agreement on the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes – called the ‘Cooperation Agreement between India and France on the Development of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy’ – was earlier adopted by the French Senate on October 15, 2009.
France was the first nation to have signed an agreement on a civil nuclear cooperation with India, just over 3 weeks after the 3-decade-old international nuclear trade embargo on India was lifted in 2008.
The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Group issued the India-specific waiver of the nuclear-transfer guidelines on September 6, 2008, and India signed the pact with France on September 30, 2008.
A statement issued by the French Embassy in New Delhi said that France-based Areva, the multinational industrial conglomerate that is mainly involved in the field of nuclear power; has been allocated the nuclear project site at Jaitapur, in Maharashtra, to construct 2 nuclear power plants initially.
Each of the 2 power plants to be built in Jaitapur will have a capacity of 1,600 megawatts.
According to the statement from the French Embassy, the actual contract for the first 2 nuclear power plants will be signed early in 2010.
The India-France civil nuclear pact provides for reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactors in France under safeguards. The deal also promises a lifetime supply of spent nuclear fuel for these reactors.
The agreement, however, does not prevent the transfer of technologies regarding nuclear enrichment and reprocessing.
The bilateral agreement makes it mandatory that reprocessing of the spent nuclear fuel be done under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
With the ratification of the Indo-French civil agreement by the French Parliament, France becomes the second nation, after Russia, to have given India “unconditional rights” to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.