New body to promote French nuclear know-how
French government plans to create a new agency in charge of offering French nuclear expertise to countries wishing to develop civilian nuclear power.8 May 2008
PARIS - The French government said Wednesday it plans to create a new agency in charge of offering French nuclear expertise to countries wishing to develop civilian nuclear power.
Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo submitted to plans for the new body, called France Nuclear International, for approval by the cabinet, government spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters.
France is vying to lead a worldwide revival of the nuclear industry, fuelled by worries about global warming and rising energy prices.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has described nuclear power as the "energy of the future", told a UN summit in September 2007 that France was prepared to help any country that wants to acquire civilian nuclear power.
He said France's approach was "the best response to those who, in violation of all the treaties, want to arm themselves with nuclear weapons," in a veiled reference to Iran.
The new agency would be part of France's existing Atomic Energy Commission.
Its role "will be to bring French nuclear expertise to all foreign states wishing to acquire civilian nuclear energy and to help them prepare for the establishment of a civilian nuclear sector in their country," Chatel said.
Since his election last year, Sarkozy has energetically promoted France's leadership in the field of nuclear energy, signing civilian nuclear cooperation accords with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.
France's new nuclear policy is good news for the country's nuclear giants: Areva which builds reactors, mines uranium and provides fuel, and utilities giant Electricite de France, which operates France's nuclear plants.
But critics, including environmentalists and some of France's European partners, warn the new cooperation accords heighten the risk of military nuclear proliferation.
[AFP / Expatica]