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Japan, India poised to forge nuclear power agreement

The Japanese and Indian governments are set to reach a broad agreement on nuclear power that would make it possible for Japan to export its nuclear technology to India, government sources disclosed on Dec. 8.

    The two governments are making arrangements ahead of a summit to be held between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in India on Dec. 12. If an agreement is reached, it would be the first pact between Japan and a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    India and Japan have continued working-level talks on exporting nuclear technology to India as the country looks to increase the number of its nuclear power plants to help solve its energy problems.

    India conducted nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 while remaining outside the NPT. Officials have therefore focused on how to respond should India conduct another nuclear test. Officials have also been wary of the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel that could be converted for military use.

    Japan, the only country to have suffered atomic-bomb attacks, has placed emphasis on nuclear nonproliferation under the NPT, and has sought regulations clearly stating that any agreement would be halted should India conduct a nuclear test. After its test in 1998, India declared a moratorium on nuclear testing.

    When the United States formed an agreement with India in 2008, there were no stipulations on nuclear testing, but the U.S. established a domestic law under which exports of nuclear fuel to India would be suspended if India were to conduct a nuclear test.

    India was reportedly reluctant to commit to a clear statement, but a Japanese Foreign Ministry official commented, "Regulations stricter than those of the United States are needed."

    It appears that officials are searching for a compromise, such as a substantial mechanism to halt technical cooperation following any nuclear test.

    India is asking that Japan consent to reprocessing of nuclear fuel at designated facilities, such as reprocessing facilities placed under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States has agreed to reprocessing at facilities that are under surveillance, and the Japanese government is expected to adopt a similar approach.

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