India, Japan start parleys on N-deal


Prime VIP
New Delhi, June 28

Notwithstanding its deep-rooted anti-nuclear sentiments for being the only country to have suffered a nuclear holocaust, Japan today started negotiations with India for a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that may well be concluded later this year.

In the two-day meeting, the two countries are expected to work out arrangements to allow Japan to export its nuclear power generation technology and related equipment to India while banning using them for military purposes and transferring them to a third country.

The Indian side at the talks in Tokyo was led by Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the External Affairs Ministry while the Japanese side was headed by Mitsuru Kitano, Deputy Director General if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Incidentally, the talks between the two countries began a day after Canada became the ninth nation to sign a nuclear cooperation accord with India since New Delhi secured a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) in September 2008 to undertake trading in nuclear items. India has already signed nuclear deals with the US, France, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Namibia and the Britain.

Official sources here said Japan was quite reluctant to consider nuclear cooperation with India since it was not signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). One reason for Tokyo’s passive stance on the issue was that it would only weaken the NPT regime and send a wrong message to countries like Pakistan and North Korea, which too are out of the NPT framework.

However, it was India’s responsible behaviour and its unblemished record in non-proliferation that clinched the issue in its favour with the Japanese. Another factor was the growing influence of China in the international arena that apparently compelled Tokyo to position itself better by strengthening ties with India. Japan, however, is believed to have sought cast-iron guarantees from New Delhi that it would not conduct further nuclear testing.