Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nuke pact can wait: Japan tells India

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New Delhi: Japan on Thursday made it clear that there were several “outstanding issues” which need to be addressed before a civil nuclear pact could be inked with India.

“There are several outstanding issues that we have… We will have these issues discussed in the working groups so that we can accelerate the efforts,” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi said after 7th India- Japan Energy Dialogue here. The Japanese minister, who was addressing a joint press conference with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, however, did not elaborate on the specific “outstanding issues”, saying these were still being discussed by the working group. “This is an important issue and there are various difficulties that still exist.

This issue is still being discussed between working group. So, I think that it would not be wise for me to specify what outstanding issues exist. “Because this would be misleading and therefore, I will like to refrain from making any specific comments about that,” the visiting dignitary said.

“This is a very important area of our cooperation but we are not fixing any deadline. We are making progress and let’s see how it goes. It is very complex set of issues that we have to address,” Ahluwalia said. Motegi also said that efforts were on to conclude the negotiations “as soon as possible.”

The remarks come barely days after the two countries resumed their negotiations on the civil nuclear pact earlier this month in Tokyo after a gap of three years. Launched in 2010, the nuclear-energy negotiations were on hold since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011.

The last round was held in November 2010. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in their meeting in Tokyo in May had decided to direct their officials to “accelerate the negotiations of an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy towards an early conclusion”. This led to the fourth round of the joint working group meeting in Tokyo.

India not being a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory is one of the sticking points with Indians insisting that its non-proliferation behaviour was impeccable enough to warrant the inking of the pact and Japan wanting India to comply with its promise of a ban on further nuclear testing made in the run-up to a clearance by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

For energy-starved India, it is important to have an India-Japan civil nuclear agreement as Japanese companies have a virtual monopoly on supplying reactor vessels, a critical component of civil nuclear plants and without such a pact these firms might not be able to supply components to French and American companies which had won orders to install nuclear plants in India. (PTI)

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