India and France on Tuesday finalised a landmark agreement on civil nuclear cooperation that covered supply of reactors and atomic fuel in the first concrete step to bring New Delhi back into the nuclear mainstream ending 34 years of nuclear isolation.
The agreement to be inked later in the day after summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will form the basis of wide ranging bilateral cooperation from basic and applied research to full civil nuclear cooperation, including reactors and fuel supplies, nuclear safety, radiation and environment protection and nuclear fuel cycle management.
The atomic pact comes three weeks after India got the crucial NSG waiver that cleared the decks for New Delhi's global nuclear trade.
The atomic pact is one of the three agreements to be signed during Singh's two-day visit to Paris. The other two relates to social security matters which will benefit Indian and French nationals staying in each others countries on short duration up to five years.
India and France have decided to give a new impetus to their cooperation for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as an expression of their strategic partnership, officials said.
They said both sides recognise that as a reliable source of sustainable and non-polluting energy, it could make a significant contribution to meeting the global challenge of achieving energy security.
The officials also noted that both countries share common concerns and objectives in the field of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including in view of possible linkages to terrorism.
Under the social security agreement to be signed between India and France, workers on short term contract up to five years, do not have to make any social security contribution provided they continue to make social security payment in India and France respectively.
For Indians working in France, these benefits shall be available even when the Indian company sends its employees to the French Republic from a third country.