Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal and Japan: A Frenzy of Misreporting and India’s Nuclear Achilles’ Heel

Posted by K.E. White on January 13, 2007

Indian officials led by Shyam Saran (pictured below) are meeting with their Japanese counterparts to resolve Japanese concerns over U.S. India Nuclear Deal.

Shyam Saran, India's Chief Nuclear Envoy

The deal was approved by the U.S. Congress during the last lame duck session, and signed by President Bush on December 18, 2006.

But it seems the media has had no idea where Japan actually stands.

Proliferation Press reviews the conflicting reports on Japan’s stance toward the U.S.-India deal and India’s nuclear status: finding that neither Japan nor India has shifted their nuclear benchmarks.

The real fight is not over recognizing India as a nuclear state or over the U.S.-India nuclear deal. Instead, it is the same question that has dogged the deal from the beginning: India’s refusal to submit to a prohibition on nuclear testing.

And it seems this refusal might derail the US-India nuclear deal: whether by the hand of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which still has to approve the deal, or by India simply abandoning the deal.

From The Hindu:

With Japan’s reservations over India’s civil nuclear ambitions persisting, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran will travel there on Saturday to make an effort to bring Tokyo around.

Saran will hold talks with Japanese leadership and lobby for support of the key member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), sources told PTI here today.

The Hindu considers this a shift in Japanese policy:

Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, had about a month back indicated softening of stand when it agreed to engage in discussions with India on the nuclear issue.

But other news reports suggest Japan ready to recognize India as a recognized nuclear state, joining the elite group of the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.

From The Peninsula:

Japan will recognise India as a nuclear power even though the South Asian nation is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) , a report said yesterday. Japan would treat India as an exception to the steadfast nonproliferation principle as Tokyo wants to let Japanese firms participate in projects such as the construction of nuclear power stations in India, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

This Japanese endorsement not only of the nuclear deal, but also India’s nuclear status was repeated in India Times:

Japan will recognise India as a nuclear power even though the South Asian nation is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a report said Wednesday.

Japan would treat India as an exception to the steadfast nonproliferation principle as Tokyo wants to let Japanese firms participate in projects such as the construction of nuclear power stations in India, the Yomiuri Shimbun said. The Japanese government is trying to arrange a visit to India by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this year, the Yomiuri said.

But the Associated Press quashed this report yesterday:

Japan refused on Wednesday to acknowledge India as a legitimate nuclear weapons state and demanded that it join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.Yasuhisa Shiozaki

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki also urged India to drop its nuclear arms, denying a newspaper report Wednesday that Tokyo was thinking of accepting India’s possession of such weapons.

“Japan and the global community have valued the international system of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation based on the NPT,” he said. “We’ll continue to seek the admission of India into the NPT as a nonnuclear weapons state.” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna declined comment.

But it seems Japan will not block the the actual nuclear deal between America and India, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times:

Japan has no plans to recognise India as a nuclear power but will refer to a US law allowing the sale of nuclear fuel and reactors to India to shape its strategy, the Japanese government’s top spokesman said on Wednesday.

Such recognition would enable Japanese companies to participate in construction of nuclear power stations in India, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper said earlier in a report on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to visit India later this year.

Shyam Saran, India’s Special Nuclear Envoy, signaled India’s willingess to abandon the deal:

“Can we walk away from this deal if it does not correspond to our national interest? Obviously we have to walk away from this and we will walk away from it,” Saran was quoted by news agency Reuters as saying.

But what’s the real fight over?

The extent India is willing to agree to international prohibitions on its nuclear program, particularly over nuclear testing:

Outlining major elements of concern that require to be dealt with in ongoing negotiations for the 123 agreement, Saran said the most critical were the issue of reprocessing of spent fuel, and India’s insistence that the unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing not be converted into a binding, legal commitment.

Now the 123 agreement is part of the US legislation, but is emerging as a key part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s–an international body that must approve the deal–bright lines:Yasukuni Enoki

“This NPT+Regime is only for India, not for North Korea or Iran. Once this regime is agreed (upon) and the NSG approves this, India will be allowed full access to nuclear fuel and nuclear technology,” Japanese Ambassador to India Yasukuni Enoki said during a panel discussion ‘Towards India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership’ here.

What will come out of the ongoing nuclear talks between Japan and India is not yet known. But if India continues its push for unbridled nuclear status, it will face serious challenges in getting international approval for the US-India nuclear deal.

And with any de jure recognition of its nuclear status.

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