Journalist | Writer | Analyst
23 October 2008
Japan not keen on nuclear cooperation with India
TOKYO: Despite finally supporting the United States-India civil nuclear initiative at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nuclear Suppliers Group, Japan is less interested in exporting nuclear material to India than in ensuring New Delhi sticks to its non-proliferation pledges.
Asked whether his government would now be prepared to encourage Japanese firms to export reactor components to India, Japan’s Prime Minister, Taro Aso, baldly told a joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday that “we are not engaged in discussions regarding nuclear energy with India.”
He revealed that Dr. Singh had raised the subject in their summit-level talks here. “Prime Minister Singh did express his desire to have future cooperation, and I said it is important that India lives up to its commitments and actions, including continuing its moratorium on nuclear testing.” As for a Japan-India nuclear cooperation agreement — considered by some Japanese industry analysts as a legal requirement for any nuclear exports from here — he said somewhat cryptically, “We will have to take into account various factors.”
Asked what he expected from Tokyo in the civil nuclear field, Dr. Singh said India was very grateful to the Government of Japan for the support it had extended at the IAEA and NSG. “It is our sincere desire to strengthen and develop our cooperation with Japan in civil nuclear energy but I do recognize the sensitivity of this in Japan and therefore I mentioned [to Prime Minister Aso] that we will move at a pace at which the Japanese people and government are comfortable.”
The joint statement issued at the end of the summit only noted that the two Prime Ministers “shared the view that nuclear energy can play an important role as a safe, sustainable and non-polluting source of energy.”