India-Japan nuke talks run into rough weather

India-Japan nuke talks run into rough weather

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Tokyo would have no other option except to withdraw itself from nuclear cooperation with India in case of another test by New Delhi.

He also said initiating nuke cooperation talks with India, which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), was the “toughest” of the decision he had taken as the foreign minister of Japan.

Addressing a joint news conference with his Indian counterpart S M Krishna after the fourth round of Strategic Dialogue between the two countries here on Saturday, Katsuya Okada also called upon New Delhi to consider signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

India and Japan had the first round of negotiations for a nuclear cooperation agreement on June 28-29 last. But Tokyo’s decision to enter into nuke talks with a non-NPT country like India sparked off strong reactions from the anti-nuclear activists in Japan. Being the only country in the world to have really experienced the devastations that atomic bombs could cause, Japan has strong public sentiments against proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Katsuya  on Saturday said he had conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Krishna the strong public opinion in Japan about Tokyo-Delhi nuke talks.
He said Japan would seek to incorporate “the philosophy of non-proliferation” in the text of the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with India. He also said Japan would make it sure that its deal with India for cooperation in use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes would not contradict its principled stand on non-proliferation and disarmament.

“We agreed that the negotiations will continue quickly and that we will jointly work towards a good agreement, which will result in a win-win situation for both India and Japan,” Krishna said, noting New Delhi’s appreciation for Tokyo’s decision to commence negotiations for a bilateral agreement for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

“We do not intend to set a timeline for the conclusion of such an agreement,” he added, apparently acknowledging that it might take longer than expected to wrinkle out differences and make Japan shun its inhibitions and sign the deal with India.
Krishna did not react to Katsuya Okada’s insistence on a guarantee by New Delhi against conducting another nuke test in future. But diplomatic sources told Deccan Herald that both Singh and Krishna told the Japanese minister that India had an impeccable non-proliferation record and had been observing a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests.

India, however, would find it difficult to accept Japan’s proposal to include a clause that would enable Tokyo to suspend nuke cooperation in case of another test by New Delhi.
Krishna and Katsuya Okada, however, agreed to make efforts to expedite negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which might be inked during Singh’s visit to Tokyo later this year. The CEPA is expected to give a boost to the bilateral trade, which is now estimated to be at around $ 12 billion.
Katsuya Okada also invited Krishna to have talks with other G-4 countries’ Foreign Ministers on United Nations Security Council reforms on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month.
DH News Service

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