Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday agreed to accelerate talks to conclude a pact that would allow Japanese firms to export nuclear power-generation technologies and equipment to India, which is struggling to secure stable electricity supplies to sustain its economic growth. The agreement came when the United States, France, Russia and South Korea are fiercely competing to get orders for nuclear technologies and equipment from India.
A Japan-India nuclear cooperation pact is problematic especially in view of the fact that India is not a party to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). India plans to build some 20 new nuclear power plants and to increase the share of nuclear power in total electricity supply from the current 4 percent to 25 percent by 2050. The value of India’s nuclear power market is estimated at $150 billion (about ¥15 trillion).
Mr. Abe has already signed agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Turkey to enable the export of Japan’s nuclear power technologies and equipment to them. It is deplorable that he is pushing such exports to India, paying little attention to the danger of nuclear power generation and the need to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.
Mr. Abe appears to ignore the sober fact that Japan has suffered from the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Some 150,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture are still forced to live away from their homes in areas contaminated with radioactive substances from the plant.
India carried out nuclear explosion tests, repeated test launches of missiles that can be tipped with nuclear weapons, and is not a signatory of the NPT. India and its neighbor Pakistan, a nuclear armed nation that is not a member to the NPT, have been engaged in an arms race. These stark facts should not been forgotten.
India has no comprehensive safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to let the nuclear watchdog inspect nuclear-related equipment and fissile materials in a signatory nation and have the nation provide relevant data.
But in 2008, under the pressure from the U.S. Bush administration, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan, decided to allow exports of nuclear power technologies and equipment to India, giving it exceptional treatment. In exchange, India pledged unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and joining a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to ban the further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
But India has called for insertion of a clause in a Japan-India nuclear pact, which ensures that the pact will not hamper India’s nuclear weapons program. It also wants the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from Japanese nuclear power generation equipment. Japan should never accept these Indian demands.
Japan should rethink its approach to India because a Japan-India nuclear pact could trigger a further arms race between India and Pakistan, thus undermining Japan’s and India’s joint goal to ensure peace and stability in the whole of Asia.