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Nuclear deal a 'golden chance' for India

Japanese envoy Yasukuni Enoki hopes India will reach a reasonable conclusion for the next step in the N-deal, reports Amit Baruah.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2007 10:58 IST
Amit Baruah

Yasukuni Enoki, Japan's Ambassador to India, believes the civil nuclear deal with the United States provides India with a "golden chance" to "accommodate itself" into a more legitimate international non-proliferation structure.

In an interview to the Hindustan Times, Enoki, however, said that in the real world, 100 per cent results could not be achieved, pointing to the compromise implicit in the civil nuclear deal.

"It is unthinkable for such a major, important power to remain an outsider to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. India will remain an excommunicated country and denied access to civil atomic energy technology and research (activities)," Enoki remarked.

The ambassador, who leaves for home at the end of the month after a four-year tenure, said such an "outlaw" status for India was not healthy either for New Delhi or for the international community.

To a question if he had any views on the domestic political debate in India on the civil nuclear deal, he said this was "very much a domestic issue" and he wished to abstain from joining this internal debate.

Taking a philosophical approach, Enoki stated that India, as a nation, always had "good balance" by taking the middle path. According to him, debate and argument among different schools of thought was an "indispensable part of Indian culture".

"India, eventually, has chosen with wisdom the best way. So, I hope that through domestic arguments, India will reach a reasonable conclusion for the next step (in the nuclear deal)," he stressed.

Turning to the international situation, Enoki made the pertinent point that barring one member of the five permanent members (P-5) of the United Nations' Security Council - China - Russia, Britain, France and the US had extended strong support to accommodate India.

"I understand that this stance taken by four of the P-5 members is based on the belief that it is more conducive for world peace to accommodate India into the mainstream of international non-proliferation efforts."

During the recent discussions between Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Manmohan Singh, India had expressed "very strong expectations" from Japan for support to the nuclear deal as well as the resumption of full civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

Japan, he said, was carefully studying the issue of extending support for the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) to allow civil nuclear commerce with India.

Enoki added that Japanese government appreciated India's "very clean" non-proliferation record and India's paramount need for energy."

Giving a political stance, Enoki said Japan recognised India's "important" role in world affairs. "We accept India as a major player in the world. We need India's cooperation to manage the political stability of the region, of the world."

The envoy, however, pointed to the lingering memories of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II. "The nuclear issue is very much a matter of national sentiment. So, a careful approach is always needed. Our concern is how to prevent the weakening of the NPT regime."

As strategic partners, shouldn't Japan be backing India's case at the NSG publicly? "We understand this legitimate expectation from India. But also, I suppose, the Indian government is fully aware of this nuclear matter relating to our tragic history."

He said that civil nuclear cooperation between India and Japan could become possible after the NSG relaxed its guidelines for New Delhi. If this were to happen, then India and Japan would have to sign a bilateral civil nuclear accord.