UPDATE 1-Italy says to sign nuclear accord with France Tuesday

Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:15pm GMT

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ROME Feb 23 (Reuters) - Italy and France will sign on Tuesday an agreement about collaboration on nuclear power issues, Italian Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said on Monday.

In a statement, Scajola said the agreement, to be signed in Rome by the leaders of the two nations, "will concern all aspects of nuclear power, from cooperation at the European level to security, technological cooperation, training, decommissioning and industrial cooperation in other countries."

The statement offered no concrete details.

Italian and French press reports said Italy's dominant power utility, Enel SpA (ENEI.MI), will acquire a 12.5 percent stake in France's second next-generation EPR nuclear reactor, in a move linked to the nuclear cooperation agreement.

Enel already owns a 12.5 percent stake in France's first European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), which is being built at Flamanville in northwest France and will be operated by French power giant EDF (EDF.PA).

In turn, EDF could take part in a joint venture with Enel in Italy to build a nuclear plant, which would be the first plant since Italy rejected nuclear power in a 1987 referendum after the Chernobyl disaster.

Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Sunday that a consortium could be set up with Enel holding a 60 percent stake and EDF the remaining 40 percent, although the joint venture could also be opened to other players. "EDF and Enel are working to broaden their partnership, and it's going very well," said a French presidential source.

Enel declined to comment on the reports. (Reporting by Gavin Jones and Yann Le Guernigou; Editing by Andrew Macdonald)