New Delhi and Tokyo Friday signed a civil nuclear deal which will allow US and French nuclear firms, which have alliances with Japanese companies, to conduct nuclear commerce with India. Concluded more than six years after negotiations began in June 2010, the deal marks a fundamental shift in Japan’s policy since India is the first non-NPT signatory with which it now has a pact.
Addressing the concerns of his people, 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 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.”
In Kantei, his office of glass and wood, Abe nodded in agreement when Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked him and Japan’s parliament for their support to the nuclear deal — Modi called it a “historic step” and linked it to the efforts at combating climate change.
But Abe still has work to do since the deal can only be implemented after it is ratified by the Diet, Japan’s parliament. Earlier, when Abe mentioned Japan’s redlines on non-proliferation, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval listened intently.
The fact that the agreement had been signed smoothly despite Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s controversial remarks the previous day on India’s no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons came as a huge relief to many in the Indian delegation.
Abe said India must have a dialogue on the “universalisation of NPT”, “early entry into force of CTBT” and “start negotiations of FMCT” — all of them being Japan’s redlines.
Modi, on his part, said, “Today’s signing of the Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy marks a historic step in our engagement to build a clean energy partnership. Our cooperation in this field will help us combat the challenge of climate change. I also acknowledge the special significance that such an agreement has for Japan. I thank Prime Minister Abe, the Japanese government and Parliament for their support to this agreement.”
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the nuclear agreement has a “termination and cessation clause” — similar to the Indo-US agreement signed eight years ago. This clause allows countries to stop nuclear cooperation in case India conducts nuclear tests.
The joint statement said the agreement “reflects a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of nuclear energy, economic development and a peaceful and secure world”.
According to Jaishankar, there were four stages in the Indo-US civil nuclear deal such as signing of the 123 agreement in 2007, getting NSG clearance in 2008, finalising the reprocessing pact in 2010, and finally inking the administrative pact in 2015.
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In the case of the deal with Japan, he said, all “four stages that were part of the deal with the US” were compressed into one. “What was contained in the each of four stages was captured into a single stage and that was signed today.”
He said Japan’s sensitivities and concerns were addressed, and much more emphasis was given on nuclear safety and security. “We understand Japan’s concerns… in fact, we have a very strong non-proliferation record, although we have not signed the NPT.”
On terrorism, the joint statement made a direct reference to the Uri and Dhaka attacks. It also asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks to justice. While Mumbai has been mentioned in previous joint statements, Pathankot is a new addition.
The statement also referred to cross-border terrorism. “They called upon all countries to work towards eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, in disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels, and stopping cross border movement of terrorists. They underlined the need for all countries to effectively deal with transnational terrorism emanating from their territory,” it said.
“They condemned terrorism in strongest terms in all its forms and manifestations in the spirit of zero-tolerance. They noted with great concern the growing menace of terrorism and violent extremism and its universal reach. They expressed their condolences to the bereaved families of the victims of both countries in the recent terrorist attacks including in Dhaka and Uri. They called upon all countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities,” it said, referring to the listing of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar. They called for increased sharing of information and intelligence in this regard.
Modi said, “As democracies, we support openness, transparency and the rule of law. We are also united in our resolve to combat the menace of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism.”
Jaishankar, recalling the Dhaka attack in which Japanese lives were lost, said it is very difficult to divorce terrorism from its epicentre — in a reference to Pakistan.
On the issue of South China Sea, the leaders “urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoid unilateral actions that raise tensions”.
Modi and Abe “reiterated their view that all parties should show utmost respect to the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans”. Jaishankar said that UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) was the “cornerstone” on matters governing the seas and the oceans.
Japan is also a key partner in India’s modernisation, especially in the infrastructure sector. “As we embark on a transformation programme, many of these draw upon the experience of Japan,” Jaishankar said.
The missing piece in Japan’s investment in India has been skills — the joint statement says Japan will train 30,000 Indians in Japanese style of manufacturing through Japanese institutes of manufacturing. “We now have the full architecture to take our economic cooperation forward,” Jaishankar said.
On the US-2 amphibian aircraft, there was no decision. Jaishankar said India was still evaluating the need. In the joint statement, Modi conveyed his appreciation of Japan’s readiness to provide its state-of-the-art defence platforms such as the US-2.
In all, ten agreements were signed during the visit on areas as diverse as skill development to agriculture, outer space to textiles.
The day started with Modi calling on Emperor Akihito, and this was followed by meetings with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Minister Hiroshige Sekoh among others.
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