Britain’s business secretary Lord Mandelson is reportedly close to sealing a £170m government-backed deal for a nuclear manufacturing facility.

According to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper, Mandelson has been leading talks between engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters and nuclear reactor manufacturer Westinghouse.

The financial package would reportedly produce a 15,000-ton press that would be used to make pressure vessels and castings for nuclear reactors.

Currently these parts are made by a handful of highly specialised facilities, all located in Japan, reports the Sunday Times.

The deal with Sheffield, which gained notoriety in the 1990s when it was embroiled in the “Supergun affair” over arms sales to Iraq, would secure a critical piece of infrastructure for a new generation of nuclear reactors in Britain.

It is understood that a memorandum of understanding between the companies, the government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) is nearly complete, the paper reports.