Thursday, March 13, 2008

Leveraging France's leading civilian nuclear technology to gain diplomatic, commercial, and military advantages with countries in the Middle East

The recent war games in the Gulf with France, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are connected to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's nuclear diplomacy
write Michelle M. Smith and Charles D. Ferguson.
Sarkozy has been leveraging France's leading civilian nuclear technology to gain diplomatic, commercial and military advantages with countries in the Middle East, as well parts of Africa and Asia.
In (somewhat) related news, Reuters' Muriel Boselli reports that
France, one of the world's largest producers of atomic energy, must act fast to avoid a shortage of skilled staff to run its reactors and win a role at the heart of a global nuclear revival.

An aging work force, a lack of courses and low enthusiasm among young engineers, for a field that is often seen as secretive or unsafe, all threaten France's ambitions for nuclear power.

…But nuclear power is getting new attention in the United States and in Europe as concerns mount over the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming and over energy security. Europe's dependence on natural gas from Russia and North Africa is another concern.

Among companies vying for the business are Areva, a French builder of reactors for nuclear operators; Électricité de France; the German utility giant E.ON; and GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

…The number of schools that train nuclear engineers and plant operators has halved in the last 25 years … EDF, the world's largest nuclear operator, has acknowledged the problem, especially as it is trying to expand abroad.