The European Union (EU) will support India's struggle to meet its huge energy requirements, EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner said Feb. 16 ."We acknowledge India's energy needs and are committed to support its energy components, of which civil nuclear energy is an important part," she said.
However, after talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she made it clear New Delhi would have to move towards the non-proliferation regime."A few steps are still needed before such a cooperation is made possible. We hope India will take these steps towards the international non-proliferation mechanism and mainstream, and then swiftly conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA," she said.
Fuel-hungry India is negotiating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to sign a safeguards agreement. The commissioner said the steps were "not conditions" and the 25-nation EU kept an "open mind."
The passage last December of a landmark U.S.-Indian deal allowing New Delhi, which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, access to civilian nuclear technology after decades of isolation has unleashed an international race to supply energy-hungry India's atomic energy market. Any contracts, however, still have to await the approval of dealings with India by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which regulates the international nuclear energy trade.
India, which imports some 70% of its oil requirements, urgently needs new sources of power to keep its burgeoning economy growing. Nuclear power currently supplies just 3% of India's energy needs.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007