India and Japan are working to seal a nuclear pact during the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from December 11-13 for the annual summit between the two countries.
Senior officials said some “distance still needs to be covered” before signing the deal that would give a leg-up to India’s ambitious civil nuclear programme, but maintained the pact is “in the realm of possibility like never before now”.
“We hope it will be a done deal this time. But considering the complex nature of negotiations that mark the civil nuclear agreements till the last moment, we should be guided by caution till the pact is finally sealed,” said a senior official.
Japanese firms play a crucial role in the US and French nuclear industries. An Indo-Japanese pact is crucial for fully realising the ongoing civilian nuclear cooperation India has with these two countries. Japanese forging major, Japan Steel Works (JSW), is a supplier of the critical reactor equipment of reactor pressure vessel for most firms worldwide.
But the sides have to agree upon the text of the agreement that will satisfy both countries. Nuclear issue is a sensitive one in Japan -- the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack. For instance, Japan wants explicit commitment on testing clauses —the deal will be off in event of a nuclear test by India. India says this touches upon the issue of ‘strategic autonomy’, which is outside the purview of civil nuclear pact that the country has been negotiating with Japan.
But sources said Japan has stopped pressuring India into signing the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) that New Delhi finds discriminatory.
Abe will visit Varnasai, the constituency of PM Narendra Modi who is likely to accompany him on the visit.