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France likely the first nation to ink nuclear trade pact with India

September 8, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

From the Financial Express

September 8, 2008

France is likely to become the first country off the block to sign a deal with India to provide nuclear reactors, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh embarks on a high profile visit to the United States and France this month end to mark India’s entry into global nuclear business.

Top government sources on Sunday indicated that a separate agreement to provide two nuclear reactors to be installed in Jaitapur in Maharashtra may be inked between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Nicholas Sarkozy on September 29 when they meet in Paris.

Prime Minister Singh will make the stopover in Paris after his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York during the course of which he will also make a day trip to Washington to meet President George Bush on the nuclear deal.

For the Jaitapur nuclear plants, where light water reactors are to be set up, French nuclear major Areva NP, which designs and builds power plants, is among the frontrunners.

Government sources also indicated that India may source two nuclear plants from the United States, one of which is likely to be installed in Midnapore in West Bengal.

Work on two more reactors, the 1000 MWe (megawatt electric) light water reactors at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu are expected to be put on the fast track in November when Russian premier visits New Delhi.

US nuclear majors Westinghouse Electric Company and General Electric are expected to bag the contracts for reactors in West Bengal, once the Indo-US deal is cleared by the US Congress.

Affirming that the NSG waiver was a major achievement, UPA sources on Sunday said the success in Vienna amounted to lifting of a big load off the leadership’s head.

Giving an inkling of the hectic parleying that went behind the scenes to secure NSG’s exemption allowing India to do global nuclear business, the sources said pressure was put on hold out countries including China at the highest level by both India and the United States. Both President George Bush and secretary of state Condoleeza Rice called their counterparts in China, Ireland, Austria and other countries following which their representatives in Vienna ultimately fell in line to back the India specific waiver.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sources said, also prepared the grounds to blunt any opposition attack by personally calling former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra and seeking his support. Notably, Mishra took a contradictory view Saturday night appearing on television channels to praise the NSG waiver.

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