Japan wants termination clause in nuclear agreement with India

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SummaryThis demand goes a step further than what New Delhi has agreed to with the US in the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Japan is pushing India to include a ‘termination clause’ in the main text of the proposed civilian nuclear agreement, which is being negotiated between the two sides after a three-year lull.

According to sources, Tokyo wants New Delhi to include a clause in the Indo-Japan nuclear deal, according to which the agreement will be terminated in case India conducts a nuclear test.

This demand goes a step further than what New Delhi has agreed to with the US in the Indo-US nuclear deal. According to that deal, in case of a nuclear test, the two countries will hold consultations for one year and then decide on termination.

Delhi treats the Indo-US nuclear deal as a “template” for its dealings with all other countries. India has also offered to include then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s commitment to the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008 as an annexure to the main text of the agreement with Japan. The 2008 commitment highlighted India’s voluntary unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.

Japan reasons that since it has been the victim of a nuclear bomb in the past, that too at the hands of the US, India should go a step further with Japan than it has with the US.

The right to reprocessing spent fuel is another point of contention between the two countries.

New Delhi wants to preserve its right to reprocess spent fuel, while Tokyo is hesitant to agree to it. Once again, Indian negotiators have cited its deals with France, Russia and the US as precedents.

After holding talks with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Thursday, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry Toshimitsu Motegi, who is on a visit to India, acknowledged that there were several “outstanding issues” that need to be addressed before a civil nuclear pact can be inked with India.

“There are several outstanding issues that we have... We will have these issues discussed in the working groups so we can accelerate the efforts,” Motegi said after the 7th India-Japan Energy Dialogue here.

“This is a very important area of cooperation but we are not fixing any deadline. We are making progress and let’s see how it goes. It is very complex set of issues that we have to address,” Ahluwalia said. Motegi said efforts were on to conclude the negotiations “as soon as possible”.

Launched in 2010, the nuclear-energy negotiations were on hold since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011.

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