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Abe, Modi look to ink civil nuclear pact at November meeting

Kyodo

A meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi is set to be held in Tokyo in mid-November, with a civil nuclear cooperation pact likely to be signed, according to a source close to bilateral ties.

The pact would pave the way for Japan to export nuclear power plant technology to the fast-growing Asian economy. But it would be Japan’s first signing of a civil nuclear cooperation pact with a country that has not joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

To ensure the nuclear technology transferred to India, considered a de facto nuclear weapons state, will not be used for military purposes, the pact will include a clause to halt Japanese cooperation with India if New Delhi conducts a nuclear test, the source said. Abe and Modi reached a basic agreement on the pact during a meeting last December.

One of the key issues in the negotiations has been how Japan, as the only country to have suffered nuclear bombings, can ensure India will not resume nuclear tests. Plutonium made by reprocessing spent fuel in a nuclear power plant can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Earlier, other diplomatic sources said that under a provision in the pact, Japan will permit Indian power producers to reprocess spent fuel at designated facilities on the condition the country accepts comprehensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Such “advanced consent” will be withdrawn, however, if threats to national security or issues regarding the protection of nuclear materials arise, the sources said.

India has accepted the Japanese stipulation that nuclear tests be regarded as such a threat, the sources said.

Following the signing of the treaty, the Japanese government will seek swift approval from the Diet to promote Japanese corporate participation in building nuclear power plants in India.

Aside from nuclear cooperation, Abe wants to strengthen coordination with India in maritime security as China continues to elevate its activities in the East and South China seas and the Indian Ocean.

The leaders are expected to confirm that they will deepen defense cooperation, such as through joint maritime exercises involving Japan, India and the United States, and affirm the importance of the rule of law.

Abe is also likely to convey Japan’s concerns about the increase in Chinese activity around the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

It will be Modi’s first visit to Japan since August 2014.