Nothing will detract from NSG’s clean waiver to India: France

July 5th, 2011 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Days after India hinted that it may not buy nuclear reactors from countries which did not sell it enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology, France Tuesday forcefully backed the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s 2008 clean waiver for New Delhi, saying “nothing in the existing and future guidelines” shall detract from it.

“With long-standing French support, India has been granted a clean exemption by the NSG, allowing for full civilian nuclear cooperation,” French ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont said here in the wake of the new NSG guidelines adopted at its meeting in the Netherlands June 24, which tighten the restrictions on the export of ENR technologies to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“This exemption reflects the unique situation of India and constitutes a historical achievement. Therefore, in the French view, nothing in the existing and future guidelines shall be interpreted as detracting from that exemption or reducing the ambition of our bilateral cooperation,” the French envoy underlined.

This is the second time in less than a week that France has reiterated its unambiguous support for the clean waiver India was given by the 46-nation NSG in September 2008 that reopened global civilian nuclear commerce for New Delhi after a gap of 34 years.

Alluding to France’s bilateral civilian pact with India, which was signed on Sept 30, 2008 and entered into force on January 14, 2010, the French envoy underlined Paris’ commitment to full civilian nuclear cooperation with New Delhi and spelt out the specifics of that cooperation.

“This agreement covers all aspects of a civilian nuclear programme, including nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear fuel and nuclear waste management and scientific cooperation,” the envoy stressed.

“The scope of this cooperation is defined and decided by the parties, consistent with their respective national policies and international obligations, including the NPT as far as France is concerned,” he added.

Reiterating French commitment to the development of “an innovative, broad-based and dynamic civilian nuclear cooperation” with India, the envoy said his country will work to achieve India’s full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes, including the NSG.

“France strongly supports India’s adhesion to the NSG and will take all initiatives necessary within the regime to ensure a swift process leading to this objective,” he said.

During his visit to India in December 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy had announced France’s full support for India’s membership of elite nuclear groups including the NSG, the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that control the global export of atomic material and equipment.

The French envoy’s clarification on the NSG’s clean waiver came days after Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao indicated in an interview that India may not buy nuclear reactors from countries which did not sell it ENR technology.

“We will defend our interests to the hilt,” Rao replied when asked by CNN-IBN news channel Sunday if India would buy reactors from any country that refused to sell ENR technology as well. “There is a balance of interest, there is a balance of commitments, there is mutual reciprocity involved. There are leverages that we can exert from our side also,” she said.

Rao also said that India already had reaffirmation of support for the NSG clean waiver to India from major partners like the US, France and Russia.

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