Critics attack France for Libya nuclear deal

26th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 26, 2007 (AFP) - French green groups joined the left-wing opposition Thursday in attacking government plans to build a reactor in Libya for water desalination as a perilous masquerade that would encourage Moamer Kadhafi to get a nuclear bomb.

PARIS, July 26, 2007 (AFP) - French green groups joined the left-wing opposition Thursday in attacking government plans to build a reactor in Libya for water desalination as a perilous masquerade that would encourage Moamer Kadhafi to get a nuclear bomb.

Sortir du Nucleaire (Get Out of Nuclear) said the official reason for the reactor was a "deception" as the civilian and military uses of nuclear technology were "indissociable."

"Delivering civilian nuclear energy to Libya would amount to helping the country, sooner or later, to acquire nuclear weapons," it said.

Rich in oil and gas, Libya is "very amply self-sufficient in energy," the group argued. "If it wishes to diversify, it should logically give priority to solar energy: the country enjoys remarkable levels of sunshine all year long."

A memorandum on building the new reactor was signed on Wednesday as French President Nicolas Sarkozy held talks with Libyan leader Kadhafi, a day after Tripoli's release of six foreign medics.

Greenpeace France said the deal "poses an enormous problem in terms of nuclear proliferation" and branded it as "in keeping with the French policy of irresponsible export of nuclear technology."

Greenpeace pointed out that previous French presidents had signed nuclear deals with the former shah of Iran, ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and with South Africa during the apartheid era.

"Officially, the reactor being sold to Libya is to desalinate sea water to help the country's supplies of drinking water. Who are they kidding?" asked Frederic Marillier, in charge of Greenpeace's energy campaign.

France's main opposition Socialist Party called for more light to be shed on the agreements signed during Sarkozy's Libya trip.

"Why such a rush to sign a memorandum of understanding on civilian nuclear, considering that Libya possesses vast oil and gas reserves and can make large-scale use of solar energy?" asked party spokesman Faouzi Lamdaoui.

"Is it not a bit soon to be throwing ourselves into Kadhafi's arms and giving him our international endorsement?" he asked, warning that "civilian nuclear can be used sooner or later to develop military applications."

The French Green Party accused Sarkozy of "boundless cynicism", with spokesman Yann Wehrling warning the president was "playing with fire" by striking a nuclear deal with an "undemocratic state".

France played a key role, along with senior EU negotiators, in securing the releases of the six medics by Tripoli.

Sarkozy denied Wednesday this had anything to do with France entering into the new accords with Libya. He also emphasised that Libya still held uranium stocks of 1,600 tonnes dating from a nuclear weapons programme that it abandoned in 2003.

One of his aides, Claude Gueant, said the visit was "a strong political signal which signifies that countries which comply with international regulations on nuclear energy, such as Libya, can acquire equipment they need for civilian purposes."

A spokesman for France's foreign ministry rejected criticism of the deal, saying: "France supports the development of nuclear energy for peaceful ends in respect for non-proliferation commitments."

Spokesman Denis Simmoneau said the Libyan agreement was the result of several years of negotiations and that France was holding "similar discussions" with other countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Other recipients of French nuclear technology have been China and Israel.

In the 1960s, French help enabled Israel to build a reactor at Dimona, in the Negev desert, through which it reputedly gained access to nuclear weapons.

Sources in Paris said on Thursday that France would sign an accord in Beijing on Tuesday for the building of two third-generation civilian nuclear reactors, adding to major contracts netted in this sector by French industry in the 1980s and 1990s.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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