India, Japan Sign Civil Nuclear Cooperation Deal
India Strategic|November 2016

NEW DELHI. The India-Japan civil nuclear cooperation agreement, in the works for over six years, was finally signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan on November 11 and 12, for the annual prime ministerial summit with Japan, a key feature of the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership. The Japan-India Nuclear Civil Agreement (NCA) opens, in theory, the way for the construction of six Westinghouse/Toshiba AP1000 reactors at Mithivirdi, in the state of Gujarat.

Nilova Roy Chaudhury

While basic parameters of the long-awaited civil nuclear deal were agreed upon by the two Prime Ministers in 2015, the final concessions were made barely hours before Mr Modi reached Tokyo.

Sources told India Strategic that the agreement is “broadly the same” as the civil nuclear agreements India has with other countries, including the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal of 2008. However, India had made concessions, taking into account “Japan’s Special sensitivities”, as the only country ever to have suffered a nuclear attack.

“It follows the same template, but compresses the developments which have taken place since 2007,” a source said. “It reflects commitments which were made at the time of the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) waiver in 2008, many of which were unilateral in nature (including not conducting further nuclear tests),” said the sources.

“The termination clause is there in other NCAs we have signed, including with the US (Article 14). However, the circumstances triggering a possible termination are never sharply defined,” the source told India Strategic, responding to a specific question about whether India had agreed to a “nullification clause”.

“Consideration has to be given to mitigating factors. Given Japan’s special sensitivities as the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack, it was felt that their views should be recorded in a separate note,” sources said, adding that “no additional commitments have been made by India.”

The Note is a record, being kept by the negotiators of their respective views.

“It states what could be Japan’s views in advance, on what is a hypothetical situation (India conducting a nuclear test); that is their national prerogative,” sources said. “At the same time, it also records India’s position on the same issue, which is a reiteration of the September 2008 commitments (for the NSG waiver). No change is envisaged from those commitments,” sources reiterated.

The joint document signed by the two countries lays down a roadmap for bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. “This would provide for the development of nuclear power projects in India and thus strengthening of energy security of the country. The present agreement would open up the door for collaboration between Indian and Japanese industries in our Civil Nuclear programme,” it says.

However, getting signatures on the dotted line was not easy. There were several questions and concerns that delayed the agreement, some of which remain. Policy-makers and parliamentarians in Japan argued that a nuclear agreement with India, a nonsignatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), would undermine the nuclear regime.

Addressing those concerns, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “This agreement is a legal framework that India will act responsibly in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and also in the non-proliferation regime, even though India is not a participant or signatory of the NPT. It (the agreement) is in line with Japan’s ambition to create a world without nuclear weapons,” Prime Minister Abe said.

Defence cooperation and maritime security was another key issue addressed.

A joint statement issued after the talks between the two delegations stressed the role of India and Japan for stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, with the two Prime Ministers reiterating the need to further consolidate their security and defence cooperation.

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