France has signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Libya, adding to previous such agreements signed with other North African nations.
The agreement was signed in Paris by France's state minister for cooperation and Libya's secretary of European affairs at the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation.
The accord provides for cooperation between France and Libya in several fields of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the generation of electricity, water desalination, exploration of uranium, and investment and training in nuclear energy. It also provides for conducting basic research and developing applications of nuclear energy in medicine, agriculture and industry, as well as cooperation in radiation protection and related areas.
A memorandum of understanding preceding this cooperation accord was signed during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Libya in July 2007. At that time, France was suggesting offering Libya assistance in constructing a nuclear power plant specifically for the desalination of water. The accord on nuclear cooperation was then initialled during a visit by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to Paris in December that year.
In February 2007, Libya's National Bureau for Research and Development was reported to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Areva under which Areva would help to determine Libya's uranium mining potential.
Completing the set
The cooperation accord with Libya is the latest in a series of such agreements with North African countries and France has nearly completed the set of North African nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Over the past year, France has also signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The only country outstanding in the set is Egypt, although during a January trip Sarkozy offered technical assistance in nuclear energy. Separately, Egypt has already signed an agreement with Russia and has participated as an observer in the US-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).
One of Sarkozy's first actions after becoming President of France was to visit North Africa. During the visit he invited several countries to join France and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea to create a Union for the Mediterranean, a body to boost economic and security ties between them. The inaugural meeting of that group - comprising 44 countries, 27 from Europe and 17 from North Africa and the Middle East - is scheduled for 13 July in Paris.