India and Japan signed a landmark bilateral nuclear agreement, which will give access to sensitive technologies for generation of alternative energy sources. Tokyo shall provide New Delhi with power source, technology and equipment for nuclear power production.
This nuclear contract had been under negotiation for six years. It was strengthened during the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India in 2015 when the fundamentals of the agreement were finalized. However, the final seal on the deal had to wait for a judicial clearance from Japan. India is the first non-associate of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to have signed such a huge deal with Japan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Today’s signing … marks a historic step in our engagement to build a clean energy partnership” while addressing a news conference with the Japanese prime minister. The accord also specifies that the fuel and equipment supplied can only be used for peaceful objectives and another parallel document signed in has a clause which allows Japan to automatically cancel the pact if India conducts nuclear testing.
“As a sole nation to have been nuclear-bombed, we bear the responsibility for leading the international community towards the realization of a world without nuclear weapons,” Shinzo Abe told the news conference, further adding,”The agreement is a legal framework to ensure that India will act responsibly for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It will also lead us to having India participate practically in the international non-proliferation regime.”
India is already beginning advanced negotiations to have U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, which is owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, erect six nuclear reactors in southern India. This is a part of New Delhi’s plan to gradually boost nuclear capacity more than 10 times by target 2032.
Japanese nuclear plant manufacturers, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd are insistent on amplifying their overseas business as the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima (2011) stalled the demand for pristine nuclear plants.
Prime Minister Abe also touched upon the infrastructural development of India saying that a high-speed railway connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be constructed based on Japan’s “Shinkansen” bullet train technology. It is scheduled to begin in 2018, and commercial operation in 2023. “In Japan, the era of high economic growth began when Shinkansen started its service in 1964. I hope the advent of high-speed railway will trigger fresh economic growth in India as well,” Abe said.
Prime Minister Modi had praised the “growing convergence” of opinions and thoughts between India and Japan, saying sturdy relations would pave the way for a strengthened role in Asia as well as the world.