France offers India ‘first generation’ EPR n-reactor (Lead)

September 12th, 2008 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sept 12 (IANS) With an India-France civilian nuclear agreement “technically ready”, Paris is offering this country its “first generation” EPR nuclear reactors, even as some 35 French companies have begun talks with their Indian counterparts for setting up joint ventures in the field.”An agreement has been initiated and technically it is ready, but some procedures will have to be completed,” French ambassador Jerome Bonnafont told reporters Friday.

Whether it will be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Paris later this month is something the French government has left to India, the envoy said, adding: “We are discussing with India on what will be best time to sign it.”

One of the things that France is offering India is the “first generation” EPR nuclear reactor, two of which are now being built by the French company Areva - one each in Finland and France. Two more may be built in China next year.

“EPR is a first generation reactor that is now under construction. It will be proposed to India,” Bonnafont said.

Manmohan Singh will travel to France to attend the India-European Union Summit in Marseilles on September 29 and then travel to Paris the next day for a bilateral summit with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This will be their second meeting this year after their talks in New Delhi in January.

“The question of nuclear cooperation between the two countries will be at the centre of the discussions when the two leaders meet,” the French ambassador said.

He pointed out that talks between the two sides were not only going at the government level but also among French and Indian companies.

“Nearly 35 French companies that are in the field of civil nuclear energy have been engaged with Indian companies since last year,” Bonnafont said.

While, Areva is one of the biggest and best known French companies in the field, there are several others specializing in different areas of nuclear technology offering expertise in turbines, distribution and technical support and training that are keen to do business with India, the envoy said.

“It is a huge subject. A lot will depend on how quickly India wants it,” Bonnafont maintained.

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