Ex-Areva head said Sarkozy hoped to sell Gaddafi nuclear-report

PARIS, April 10 Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:04pm EDT

PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - The former head of France's state-controlled nuclear group Areva accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of wanting to try to sell nuclear power to Muammar Gaddafi's Libya at least until the summer of 2010, according to a news report.

Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, was overthrown and killed in October by rebels backed by a NATO force in which French warplanes played a major role.

Anne Lauvergeon, former chief executive of Areva, said in an interview published on Tuesday on the website of L'Express weekly that Sarkozy proposed in July 2007 to sell a nuclear reactor to the Gaddafi government to be used to desalinate ocean water.

Lauvergeon said she opposed the idea "vigorously".

"The state, which was supposed to be responsible, was supporting this folly," Lauvergeon said. "Imagine, if we'd done it, how it would look now!"

Lauvergeon said she had another meeting on the subject with an advisor to Sarkozy and the head of France's state-owned power company, EDF in 2010.

Lauvergeon was ousted last June after 10 years at the helm of Areva, the world's biggest nuclear reactor maker.

Lauvergeon reproached the president, who is facing an uphill battle to secure a second term, for organizing a "clan" system within the French nuclear network.

"This system touted low-end nuclear abroad and proposed transfering our global intellectual property rights to the Chinese and selling nuclear in countries where it was not reasonable," Lauvergeon said.

She said that Sarkozy offered her a position in his government after being elected in 2007, but she refused. (Reporting By Alexandria Sage; editing by Andrew Roche)