French nuclear cooperation with India to cover reprocessing

An EU-India joint statement from 6 November 2009 states: "India and the EU share the understanding that the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should take place in conformity with the highest standards of safety, security, and non-proliferation" and that they "look forward to the early conclusion of the agreement on research and development in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy". In France the National Assembly adopted a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with India that, apparently, explicitly includes reprocessing. The adoption of the detailed 11-page agreement (in French) was signed into law on 4 December 2009.

Article V.3 of the agreement allows for the reprocessing of spent fuel in a "national nuclear facility under IAEA safeguards", without specifying the respective countries. Annex 2.3 details pieces of reprocessing plant equipment that can be transferred under the agreement, including spent fuel decladding machines, dissolvers, extractors, etc.

The French have a long-standing cooperation on plutonium technologies with India, in particular on the fast breeder reactor technology. But some specifically listed items in the shopping list of the Franco-Indian cooperation agreement are particularly remarkable. They include under Annex 2.7.2. plutonium conversion facilities and equipments specifically designed for that purpose:

  • Systems specially designed or prepared for the conversion of plutonium nitrate to oxide;
  • Systems specially designed or prepared for the production of plutonium metal.