Nuclear Deal | Indian – Japan

A historic ‘Civil Nuclear Deal’ with Japan was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan, which was in limbo from the last one decade. Apart from the advanced technology and material assistance, India has a lot to gain from this landmark agreement.

Nuclear Deal | Benefits

Japan Nuclear

  • The deal is critical to India’s renewable energy plans as it aspires to fulfil 40% of its energy consumption through renewable energy by 2030, as per the Paris Agreement.
  • Japanese companies would inject state-of-the-art technology to India’s civil nuclear energy dreams.
  • Previously, Japanese companies were not allowed to supply cutting-edge technology to India, which adversely affected Indo-French and Indo-US nuclear deal too because the Japanese have a significant holding in US and French companies. Now with the lifting of the ban, the Indo-French and Indo-US nuclear deal can be materialised to its full strength.
  • Japan now recognizes India’s exemplary record in nuclear prudence which is a moral boost for India’s aspirations for the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership.
  • The nuclear deal would boost the meagre, and dipping, bilateral trade of $15 billion and lift the strategic military and defence relationship to a new level.
  • The Westingouse made nuclear reactor planned for Andhra Pradesh in June 2017 would see the dawn of the day with the approval of this deal by the Japanese Parliament.
  • With red signals coming from the President-elect of the United States for India and Japan to become independent in their security apparatus against China, this civil nuclear deal with Japan would bring us much closer in security and military terms too.

Nuclear Deal | Concerns over the agreement

  • Article 14 of the deal allows Japan to terminate the nuclear deal in ‘special’ cases (nuclear testing by India). This right to termination is contentious, with India saying it is not ‘legally binding’.
  • With the termination clause in paper, it would snatch away the nuclear sovereignty of India like a virtual NPT condition. The ambiguity over this clause should be cleared in advance to prevent India-US nuclear deal like situation.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has to approve the deal in the Japanese Parliament in early 2017 which would be an onerous task due to the unacceptable exceptions made for India by Japan for the civil nuclear deal. (Note- India is the first non-NPT signatory with which Japan has signed a civil nuclear deal)
  • China has been looking at the developments closely with his two potential rivals in Asia coming together enormously, creating regional power imbalances for China. We’ll have to see how China responds to this.
  • Russia, the strategic partner of India would not be too delighted about the prospects of further dwindling footholds of it in the Indian nuclear industry. This could become a thaw in the strategic relationship that India shares with Russia.
  • India’s NSG bid might receive a further opposition by China due to our expanding nuclear commerce with Japan, which is a strategic threat to China.

thediplomat_2014-08-22_20-59-44-553x360With the unfolding of the events, it is quite clear that India-Japan needs to guide a strategic rebalance towards the Chinese muscle flexing in Asia. But a relationship cannot be based upon common hatred alone. Convergence of genuine interests, mutual respect for sovereignty and inter-dependence on strategic matters are the keys to build a strong and multifaceted alliance.

With many ambiguous clauses present in the document, it would be prudent for both the parties to clear such ambiguities on the negotiation table. Otherwise, a fruitful deal would go back into the limbo even after a celebrated agreement.

Raj Malhotra IAS Study Group.