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Indo-US Nuclear deal jeopardised by failed Indo-Japan deal

October 25, 2010
  • India will find it hard to buy reactors from French and American companies as some key components are only manufactured by Japanese supplier Mitsubishi.
  • Japan has so far refused to sign a civil nuclear pact with India, because India refused to say there won’t be future Pokhrans.
  • Japan had reacted very strongly when India conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
  • India feels that the progress on negotiations for the nuclear deal will be “slow”, given Japan’s sensitivities. Noting in any reports that Japan is willing to give Bharat an exemption on further testing.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Kyodo that “we have not laid down any deadline for concluding these negotiations.” This is diplomatic speak that spell failure. Sources say New Delhi expects a “long and slow negotiating process” given the “unusually sensitive” nature of issues to Japan because of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings.

The key difference, say both Indian and Japanese diplomatic sources, is Tokyo’s desire for a firm Indian nuclear test ban commitment. Singh noted this saying, “We are commited to maintaining our unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.”

Japan has said the moratorium is insufficient. The two sides are now looking at the nonproliferation commitments India gave to the Nuclear Suppliers Group when they lifted the ban on nuclear commerce with India.

“India cannot agree to a template that is too far from what it already has with other countries,” say sources, however special the circumstances of Japan’s nuclear history.

India believes Japan has to work through its internal debate and is prepared to wait.

One, New Delhi appreciates how far Japan has moved on this issue. Japan initiated the present nuclear talks. “If you had said Japan would be prepared to negotiate a nuclear deal with India five years ago, everyone would have laughed,” said a source. In recent years, Japan has removed nine Indian names from its version of an entities list – a roster of Indian organizations denied advanced technology.

Two, Japan is seen as the world leader in many nuclear technologies. The reactors that the US is trying to sell to India represent, in their core areas, Japanese knowhow. India’s Department of Atomic Energy sees Japan’s Rokassho nuclear reprocessing centre and its Monju fast breeder reactor as technological exemplars. Singh alludes to this by saying India wants Japan as its “partner” in its civil nuclear ambitions.

Third, if India and Japan can resolve the nuclear issue they will have worked through the most difficult and sensitive of issues, said a source, and would inject a new maturity to their ties.

Indian sources said that Japan did not raise the issue of suppliers’ liability during the negotiations. But Japanese sources say they did ask about India’s progress in signing the related Convention for. Singh expressed the hope that India and Japan would be able to conclude a civil nuclear cooperation agreement “which will be a win-win proposition for both of us.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on a visit to Japan, and India hopes to negotiate a nuclear co-operation agreement. This is important since India will find it hard to buy reactors from French and American companies as some key components are only manufactured by Japanese supplier Mitsubishi.

Japan has so far refused to sign a civil nuclear pact with India, because India refused to say there won’t be future Pokhrans.

India and Japan are negotiating hard so that they have an atomic agreement between the two countries but if the agreement does not happen it will be hard for the French company Areva to bring a reactor pressure vessel, which is critical for the functioning of a nuclear reactor, to India.

The trouble is very few companies make nuclear vessels as big as the 1650 MW one made by the Areva, and India needs these because it’s looking for large nuclear power plants. So what happens if the Japanese don’t agree to supply to India?

“I understand there some negotiations in progress between India and Japan to overcome this issue, if these negotiations unfortunately do not bring a result, then we have a solution to manage it ourselves by investing in industrial capacity to produce this specific component,” said Luc Oursel, Chief Operating Officer, Nuclear Operations, Areva.

“We hope for the benefit of the global nuclear industry that there will be an agreement between India and Japan. This will put India in a position to benefit from the capacity of the Japanese supplier,” he added.

India is looking at buying nuclear power plants to generate a whopping 10 thousand mega watts of power.

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