France Places Conditions on Reconstructing Iraq’s Nuke Reactor

France said today that it will supply Iraq with low-enriched “Caramel” uranium and a low-grade fuel not suitable for weapons when it reconstructs Iraq’s nuclear reactor which was destroyed last June by Israel.

Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson told Parliament that France has already informed Iraq that the new equipment supplied by France will be based on nonmilitary fuel and that contrary to Baghdad’s demands, formerly enriched uranium will no longer be shipped to Iraq. France, which opposes the spread of nuclear arms, is formally committed to reconstructing the nuclear plant at Tamuz, near Baghdad.

French officials say that France has added an additional condition to rebuilding the reactor: the new installations will have to be under the permanent control of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Commission. France also wants to post permanently some of its own experts on the site to make sure that the Iraqis do not transform the reactor or try to put it to any possible use connected with arms development projects

In his statement in Parliament, Cheysson said: “The French government is ready to pursue its nuclear cooperation with Iraq but wants to ensure that all necessary guarantees exist as to its peaceful and strictly civilian use.” The minister stressed that France intends to use “the most recent technology” to ensure that the reactor is not diverted to any other use.

Since Israeli war planes destroyed the initial reactor, France and Iraq have been negotiating on the reactor’s replacement. According to unofficial reports, Iraq has accepted the French conditions. Work on the new site, which will not be near Baghdad, might start next summer.

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