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Japan activists, media denounce Indian N-deal

Japanese media and activists denounced a decision allowing India to engage in international nuclear trade, warning it could hinder future efforts to completely abolish nuclear weapons.

world Updated: Sep 07, 2008 14:18 IST

Japanese media and activists on Sunday denounced a decision allowing India to engage in international nuclear trade, warning it could hinder future efforts to completely abolish nuclear weapons.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group, which controls the export and sale of nuclear technology, approved a one-off waiver of its rules for India on Saturday. It was a vital step in securing a 2005 India-US civilian technology nuclear deal.

Japan is the only nation that has experienced nuclear attacks. The mayor of Hiroshima City, where the US military dropped an atomic bomb for the first time on August 6, 1945, deplored the move.

"It is clear that this will make the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) a dead letter and will become a huge obstacle for the future efforts toward complete abolition of nuclear weapons," Tadatoshi Akiba said in a statement.

"It is extremely regrettable that countries concerned, including our country, came to the unanimous agreement," he said, according to Jiji Press.

Japanese media had lamented Tokyo's decision to follow the US initiative despite a long-held policy by Japan to work towards non-proliferation.

The NSG had banned nuclear trading with India because it refuses to sign the NPT, having developed atomic bombs in secret and conducted its first nuclear test in 1974.

Washington wanted a special waiver so it could share civilian nuclear technology with New Delhi.

Critics say the deal undermines international non-proliferation efforts and accuse the nuclear powers of pursuing commercial and political gains.

"Double-standard for nuclear superpower," the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said in a headline.

"The decision is hard to understand," the Mainichi said in its editorial.

"We hold extremely strong worries that the international community's sound judgement about non-proliferation of nuclear weapons was bent by pressure from the United States," it said.

Japan has helped to weaken the NPT regime, the Mainichi added.

"Bad precedent for nuclear non-proliferation," the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun said in a headline.

"There are worries that the bargain offer of the exception for India could prompt Iran and North Korea to seek the same treatment by interpreting the deal to their advantage," the Yomiuri said.

The influential Asahi Shimbun also expressed its worries that the deal would erode the foundation of the NPT regime and noted the NSG was created in response to the 1974 Indian nuclear experiment.

"Strong criticism has been voiced that the agreement goes against the spirit of the NPT regime," the Asahi said.