India-Japan N-deal runs into hurdles | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India-Japan N-deal runs into hurdles

delhi Updated: Oct 15, 2010 08:11 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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Negotiations for a crucial civil nuclear cooperation pact between India and Japan have run into hurdles over Tokyo’s insistence on stringent provisions for New Delhi's non-proliferation actions and commitments as well as clauses dealing with a future nuclear test.

The second round of talks for the pact was held in New Delhi on October 8 and 9, and another one aimed at narrowing down the differences is expected in the year-end. Japan, the only victim of a nuclear attack in history, has been sensitive to nuclear issues.

The deal with Japan is crucial also for implementation of India’s nuclear pacts with the US and France. Both French nuclear major Areva and a US’s General Electric use reactor vessels from Japan Steel Works Limited and GE is hugely dependent on Hitachi Limited for nuclear reactors.

Officials familiar with the negotiations told HT, Japan, though not insisting on India signing the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), want provisions amounting to a “strict guarantee” that India will continue to “adhere to the commitments and actions” regarding nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

For this, they want the pact to have similar language as the statement of the Nuclear Suppliers group on nuclear cooperation with India based on what India told the group on September 5, 2008.

It was mandatory for India to get exemption from the NSG guidelines to start nuclear commerce with other countries.

But Indian officials differ on having the same template, saying while NSG was a multilateral forum where the exemption was made taking into account India’s declaration of intent as well as track record, India and Japan are negotiating a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact.

Japan, faced with immense domestic pressure, wants explicit provisions to ensure the deal is called off if India goes for another nuclear tests.

But India would like to make a distinction between its civil nuclear cooperation and the strategic nuclear programme. New Delhi believes testing comes in the “realm of strategic autonomy” and it cannot be dealt in any form with a bilateral pact with another country.

Delhi also counters the Japanese sensitivity on testing.

Points of discord

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, during his recent visit to India, had concern over India conducting N-test in the future.

Japan wants guarantee on non-proliferation actions and commitments similar to what India told the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. India says NSG is a multilateral forum, while says India-Japan pact is a bilateral one and NSG a multilateral forum.

Japan wants explicit commitment on testing clauses. India cites strategic autonomy, which is outside the purview of civil nuclear pacts. But, Japan is not pressing for India signing NPT.