M A I N   N E W S

India to buy 6 French Scorpene submarines
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Paris, September 12
Even as France agreed to work in close concert with the US and England to remove the restrictions on exporting nuclear reactors and other technology for peaceful purposes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informed French President Jacques Chirac of India’s decision to buy the Scorpene submarines for the Indian Navy.

The technology transfer for the Scorpene submarines will begin immediately as six of these will be built in France and the remaining six at the Mazagon Docks in Mumbai. While Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran refused to give the estimated cost of acquiring a dozen Scorpene submarines, it is expected to cost 2.4 billion Euros. France has agreed to reduce the escalation in the costs because of the delay in India taking a final decision about the Franco-Spanish Scorpene submarines.

While Dr Singh emphasised that India was ready to accept French nuclear reactors, he and Mr Chirac took the strategic partnership between the two countries to a higher level by agreeing to have a framework agreement for defence cooperation.

In respect of civilian nuclear energy cooperation, France made a clear commitment of supporting India in all respects. Mr Chirac appreciated the tremendous demand for energy in India for sustaining the growth pattern in excess of 7 per cent annually and that it formed a critical component of energy security.

While discussing regional and other issues especially Iran’s nuclear programme, India supported the Euro-3 grouping of France, Germany and Britain that “acceptable compromises” should be pursued by dealing with this issue diplomatically.

France reaffirmed its continued support to India for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Mr Chirac underlined the need for the restructuring of the UNSC as it was out of date and highly unrepresentative. He was categoric that “India belonged to the UNSC.”

The joint statement stressed that France acknowledges the need for full international civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India and will work towards this objective by working with other countries and the Nulcear Suppliers Group (NSG).

“France appreciated India’s strong commitment to preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the ongoing steps it is taking in this regard. In this context, both countries will also work towards conclusion of a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement.”

Further, the joint statement pointed out that “our strategic partnership in the field of defence industries has been newly illustrated by the confirmation given by India of its decision to purchase Scorpene submarines.” India has also agreed to buy 45 Airbus aircraft at a cost of 2 billion Euros.

In pursuing cooperation in the space sector, India and France expressed satisfaction with the framework agreement between the European Union and India on India’s participation in the Galileo project.

On the eve of the UN high level summit, India and France agreed to strengthen cooperation in dealing with global challenges and work together in fighting terrorism, prevention of proliferation of WMDs, promoting development which is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, the effective management of globalisation and the fight against pandemics.

Both countries reaffirmed their support for the reform of the United Nations system and an organisation which is stronger, more representative and more capable of responding in the best possible manner to today’s challenges in the areas of international peace, security and development.

Dwelling on global energy requirements, India and France underlined the need to combat global warming and recognised the need to strengthen energy security and promote the development of stable, sustainable, efficient and affordable energy sources to meet their growing energy requirements.

“Both sides also recognise that nuclear energy provides a safe, environmental friendly and sustainable source of energy and the need to further develop international cooperation in promoting the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


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