In a significant boost to their civil nuclear cooperation, India and France have encouraged their industrial companies to conclude techno-commercial negotiations by the end of the year for the construction of six, instead of two, nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur.
During the talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Francois Hollande reassured reliable, uninterrupted and continued access to nuclear fuel supply throughout the entire lifetime of the plants while acknowledging India's need for the same.
"The two leaders agreed on a roadmap of cooperation to speed up discussions on the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in 2016. Their shared aim is to start the implementation of the project in early 2017," a joint statement after the talks between the two leaders said.
They also favoured conclusion of techno-commercial negotiations by the end of 2016 for construction of six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur while giving due consideration to its cost and transfer of technology, besides cost-effective localisation of manufacturing key components in India.
France also reaffirmed its strong support for India's candidacy to international export control regimes and in particular to the NSG.
France was the first country with which India established a strategic partnership in 1998 after New Delhi had conducted nuclear tests. France is also the first country with which India entered into civil nuclear energy cooperation in 2008 after obtaining the NSG waiver.
"France is among those few first countries with which India has signed agreements in the field of civil nuclear cooperation," Modi said at a joint press event.
"In pursuance of the 2008 Agreement on the Development of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between India and France, the two leaders encouraged their industrial companies to conclude techno-commercial negotiations by the end of 2016 for the construction of six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur."
The joint statement also emphasised on cost-effective localisation of manufacturing in India for large and critical components in accordance with Modi government's "Make-in-India" initiative.
During talks, Modi and Hollande expressed satisfaction over ongoing time-bound implementation of cooperation between AREVA of France and L&T of India under the MoU signed in April 2015 for localisation of components for nuclear power project at Jaitapur as well as the progress in pre-engineering studies for the project being carried out by AREVA in collaboration with NPCIL.
They also welcomed initiating of revised MoU between EDF and NPCIL for the construction of six EPR units at Jaitapur.
The developments also assume significance as the nuclear cooperation deal between India and France was signed in 2008 but the 9,900 MW Jaitapur project -- one of the biggest nuclear parks to come up in the country -- but was stuck.
Apart from facing a stiff local resistance, the project was stuck as both the parties could not reach negotiations on the cost factor.
Both the countries also reaffirmed their commitment to responsible and sustainable development of civil nuclear energy with highest consideration to safety, security, non-proliferation and environmental protection.
The two countries underscored the contribution of nuclear energy to their energy security and to the fight against climate change.
France also greeted the decision by the government of India to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
The two leaders appreciated the regular engagement between their atomic energy organisations and their growing collaboration in mutually beneficial scientific and R&D sectors related to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
They also appreciated the long-standing relations between their nuclear regulatory authorities -- India's AERB and France's ASN -- which has facilitated sharing of valuable experiences, best practices and developments related to nuclear safety and regulatory issues.