Interview of the French Ambassdor to "The Economic Times", October 10, 2013
Interview of the French Ambassdor, Mr. François Richier to "The Economic Times", New Delhi, October 10, 2013
Civil nuclear cooperation has been one the pillars of Indo-French strategic cooperation. With French nuclear major Areva set to supply six ’European pressure reactors’ for the Jaitapur plant, French Ambassador to India, Francois Richier, discusses the status of the Jaitapur Project, the controversial Nuclear Liability Act, Indo-French security cooperation and French investments in India, in an exclusive interview to ET. Excerpts:
Does France consider the Nuclear Liability Act an impediment in civilian nuclear cooperation?
We work within the framework of each country where we have to operate. We will abide by the Indian law. Indo-French dialogue on nuclear liability issue has been transparent. Currently we are studying the Act and its implications for the Jaitapur power plant for which Areva will supply reactors. The two countries are also working on the other parameters of the proposed plant, like safety aspect in the backdrop of Fukushima accident. In France, we conducted a detailed safety review of our 60 nuclear power plants that meet 75% of our electricity needs. In the past six decades, we have never faced any accident. The safety review has been satisfactory and we have shared this with India. We are happy to note that safety standards of French nuclear reactors are among the best.
When will Areva start supplying reactors for Jaitapur unit?
We cannot put a time frame to this. The nuclear cooperation has to be viewed long term. Currently Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Areva are holding commercial negotiations. This was delayed by Fukushima and safety review thereafter. Our commitment is to provide cheap, bulk and safe electricity to India that will enable to fulfill India’s energy demands. We would provide electricity at a steady price. India is a rising political power and depriving it of nuclear power will be baseless. We have worked towards providing clean waiver by NSG to India and now we want to see India as a full member of NSG. France is also trying to facilitate India-Japan nuclear agreement that would help in supply of supply of Japanese equipment to Areva’s nuclear reactors. While Areva can source them from elsewhere, Japan is preferred.
What is the current level of defence cooperation ?
The two countries have a strong security and anti-terror cooperation. It will however, difficult for me to share details of this cooperation. Our defence partnership dates back to the 1950s. India first purchased French military aircraft in 1953. This trend has continued into recent times with the recent Rafale contract. Besides bagging this contract for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, India and France are jointly developing missiles. France will also provide India with light helicopters. Joint military exercises have been regular phenomenon. India and France have expanded their security cooperation to include cyber security cooperation. India is not only a victim of cyber attacks, it is also a provider of solutions to such crimes. Cyber is the new battleground.