France launches international wing of nuclear agency

Thursday, May 8, 2008

PARIS, May 7 (Reuters) - The French cabinet passed a decree on Wednesday allowing the country's Atomic Energy Commission to promote French nuclear expertise and safety standards globally.

The Commission's new international division will help other countries build nuclear power stations safely and without harming the environment, while ensuring the technology is not used for weapons, the government said in a statement.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has placed the country's nuclear industry at the heart of its foreign policy and actively lobbies for developing countries to use what he calls "the energy of the future."

France has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UEA), Algeria and Libya.

French nuclear plant builder Areva clinched the biggest commercial atomic energy contract on record at the end of 2007, worth 8 billion euros, to supply China with two reactors and supply fuel for nearly two decades.

Areva and French utility EDF are also well positioned to reap the benefits of a rebirth of nuclear power in Britain, in South Africa and in the United States. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, writing by Muriel Boselli)

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