India-Japan civil nuclear deal likely to be signed next month

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Published: November 26, 2015 1:21:17 AM

The civil nuclear agreement between India and Japan is expected to be inked next month when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives here on December 9 for the annual summit.

The civil nuclear agreement between India and Japan is expected to be inked next month when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives here on December 9 for the annual summit.

Diplomatic sources told FE that the civil nuclear deal, along with several other agreements, is likely to be signed during the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart on December 10.

Negotiations at the bilateral level re-started in 2014, when Modi was sworn in as PM. Japan’s position on India’s non-proliferation treaty (NPT) has been consistent. India’s stand has also been clear as it considers NPT as discriminatory, sources said. India has signed nuclear deals with NPT signatories like the US, Canada and Australia. As a condition for allowing reprocessing, Japan has suggested throughout the bilateral negotiations, which began in 2010, that India submit an annual report detailing the amount of plutonium generated through reprocessing and where it is stored.

India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Act (CLND) 2010, that hold nuclear plant manufacturers partly liable in the event of nuclear accidents was another major concern of Japan. Earlier this year during the visit of US President Barack Obama, India-US agreed that an insurance framework created by India would cover damages related to accidents.

Both India and Japan are expected to reach an agreement with conditions similar to the deal that India and the US signed for such matters as the management of nuclear technologies and liability for damages. Also, the two are expected to agree on tight management of nuclear technologies on par with the NPT.

Sharing her views with FE, Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation, said “ The likelihood of an India-Japan nuclear agreement is positive. Japan, being a strong adherent of NPT and one who is known for playing by the rules of the game, this is significant. Just as the Bush Administration understood the importance of trade in strategic goods in the US-India context, the Abe Administration in Japan is willing to make adjustments to its policy approaches and conclude a deal with India. This is of course keeping in mind the larger strategic connotations or the broader implications of the deal than looking at a mere nuclear prism.”

“However, looking from a pure nuclear prism, it is not going to take India or Japan anywhere. But conclusion of an agreement between India and Japan will ease the process of doing business with the US in this regard. Because two of the major Japanese companies have tie ups with two major companies as well. So this will indicate a sort of a big shift Japan is willing to make for the sake of big long-term strategic gains,” Rajagopalan added.

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