Opening the doors for nuclear commerce with the world, especially with American and French companies, India and Japan signed on Saturday a pact on civilian nuclear cooperation after five years of negotiations.
With Japan holding significant stakes in US companies like GE and Westinghouse, and the French firm Areva, the deal is crucial for setting up nuclear power plants using Japanese reactors.
After signing the Memorandum of Understanding on peaceful use of nuclear energy with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hyderabad House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Today, we have scaled new summits in our shared journey. The memorandum we signed on civil nuclear energy cooperation is more than just an agreement for commerce and clean energy.”
“It is a shining symbol of a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of a peaceful and secure world. I know the significance of this decision for Japan. And I assure you that India deeply respects that decision and will honour our shared commitments,” he said.
Later, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said they have “concluded the negotiations”, and now “technical” and “legal” vetting needs to be done by both sides.
The joint statement said the two prime ministers welcomed the agreement reached between the two governments on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and confirmed that this agreement will be signed after the technical details are finalised, including those related to necessary internal procedures.
Modi said, “No less historic is our decision to introduce high speed rail on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector through Japan’s Shinkansen, known for its speed, reliability and safety.”
Appreciating the “extraordinary package of approximately 12 billion US dollars and technical assistance, on very easy terms” for this project, he said: “This enterprise will launch a revolution in Indian railways and speed up India’s journey into the future. It will become an engine of economic transformation in India.”
The joint statement said the two prime ministers welcomed the signing of the memorandum of cooperation on introduction of Japan’s High Speed Railways (HSR) technologies (the Shinkansen system) to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.
In a major boost to defence cooperation, India and Japan also signed two pacts, including an agreement concerning transfer of defence equipment and technology cooperation. This agreement provides a framework to “enhance defence and security cooperation by making available to each other, defence equipment and technology necessary to implement joint research, development and/or production projects or projects”.
Asked whether there was any progress on the procurement of US-2 amphibious aircraft, Jaishankar said that no decision has been taken on that.
The other agreement on defence issues pertained to security measures for the protection of classified military information. They also decided that Japan will now be part of the India-US Malabar exercises on a regular basis, a shift from the earlier practice when it was not a regular feature. The two sides decided to begin Air Force-to-Air Force staff talks.
Modi also announced that India will extend “visa on arrival” to Japanese citizens including for business purpose from March 1, 2016. “This is different from the electronic visa facility that is being extended globally,” he said.
Besides these four agreements, 12 more agreements were signed between the two sides on a broad range of issues — railways, tax matters, health and energy among others.
Abe, who met President Pranab Mukherjee, visited Varanasi with Modi and watched the aarti at the Dasashwamedh Ghat.