India, a nuclear-armed country, has not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Regrettably, Japan, which has advocated for a nuclear weapons-free world ever since the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, has started talks with India on a pact to allow India to import civilian nuclear technology and equipment from Japan.

India had been prevented from obtaining nuclear material and technology from 46 member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. In 2008, at the prodding of the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, the NSG dropped the ban on exports to India. As a result, the United States, France and Russia have signed civilian nuclear cooperation pacts with India.

U.S. and French firms hoping to enter India’s nuclear power generation market want to procure Japanese nuclear equipment. The export of nuclear power plants is an important part of the Kan administration’s growth strategy. Before agreeing to civilian nuclear cooperation, though, Japan should impose strict conditions on India so that Japan’s nuclear technology does not proliferate to other countries and thus the NPT regime is not underminned.

At the time of the NSG decision, India declared it would continue a moratorium on nuclear tests and involve itself in negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), which will ban further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Japan should demand that India ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty and stop production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

To get the NSG to decide in its favor, India had agreed to let the International Atomic Energy Agency inspect 14 of its 22 reactors. Japan should demand that India open the remaining reactors to IAEA inspection.

FMCT negotiations have stalled because of resistance by Pakistan, India’s nuclear-armed neighbor, which seeks a balance of nuclear forces. In a move that could undercut the NPT regime, Pakistan is seeking nuclear power plants from China. Japan should try to get both India and Pakistan to join the NPT, while the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France should push toward their own nuclear disarmament.

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