India, Japan agree on nuclear pact

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) India and Japan on Saturday reached a substantive agreement on a civil nuclear deal in the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe here.

“The memorandum we signed on civil nuclear energy cooperation is more than just an agreement for commerce and clean energy,” Modi said at a joint press conference following delegation level talks between the two sides.

“It is a shining symbol of a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of a peaceful and secure world,” he said.

Appreciating the significance of this decision for Japan, Modi gave the assurance that “India deeply respects that decision and will honour our shared commitments”.

Later, briefing the media, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said that India and Japan have reached a “substantive agreement” on the nuclear issue.

He said there were some technical details, legal scrubbing and internal details to be gone through.

“But the key part of the agreement has been done,” Jaishankar said.

He described Japan as a very important player in the global nuclear industry.

“They have their number of areas of particular expertise,” the foreign secretary said, adding that the agreement would allow Japan to partner other countries and companies like Westinghouse and GE.

He said that by substantive agreement, it meant that both India and Japan have agreed on various provisions which were in an agreement.

“But this is not unique to Japan. It also happened with the US too,” he said.

“We reached a certain point and we need the technical and legal people to look at it and then you have the various formalities.”

Stating that each country has its own practice on the nuclear issue, he said that even the ways India did such agreements were different.

“There are countries with whom we have done the framework agreements and then we have done the administrative arrangements which are the actual operational procedures later on,” Jaishanker explained.

“The two prime ministers welcomed the agreement reached between the two governments on the agreement between the government of Japan and the government of the Republic of India for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, and confirmed that this agreement will be signed after the technical details are finalised, including those related to the necessary internal procedures,” he said quoting that particular section of the joint statement issued following the talks between the two sides.

He said that in the case of Japan it involved the consideration by the Diet or the Japanese parliament.

“I would hesitate to put a timeline because I am not conversant with the Japanese internal procedures and their timelines,” Jaishankar said.

In terms of liabilities, he said that the Japanese side was assured of the efficacy of the liability solutions that India had found earlier in the year.

On the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) issue, he said India had put it behind with Japan’s help in 2008 itself when the nuclear suppliers group decided to make an exception for India.

As for nuclear fuel tracking, the foreign secretary said that India has addressed this issue not only with Japan but with a number of other countries as well, including the US, Australia and Canada,

“We have produced a credible template which satisfies all major nuclear suppliers,” he said.

Regarding reprocessing, Jaishankar said that it has been a long standing position of India that reprocessing was an integral part of the its nuclear programme because the manner in which it ran its nuclear programme it needed the spent fuel to be reprocessed and not allow it to accumulate.

“So, any solution that we would have done would be in consonance with our longstanding policy,” he said.

At a separate media briefing, Vasuhisa Kawamura, spokesperson of the Japanese prime minister, credited both Modi and Abe for the Saturday’s agreement.

“This would not have been accomplished by any other leader,” he said.

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