Tokyo: With Japan playing hard ball in the negotiations on the civil nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said he would not “force” it on Tokyo as he recognises its sensitivity on the subject.
However, Singh, who is here on a two-day visit, said he would like Japanese firms to participate in expansion of India’s nuclear industry.
“We would hope that Japan will be India’s partner in expansion of its civil nuclear industry for peaceful purposes. But I do recognise the sensitivity of the subject in Japan and will not therefore force the issue,” he told a business luncheon meeting here.
Singh made the comments while responding to a question about the next steps after the completion of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries.
His comments come in the backdrop of Japan insisting that the proposed agreement on a civil nuclear deal should have a provision under which the cooperation would be called off if India were to test a nuclear weapon.
The two countries have already held two rounds of negotiations on the proposed agreement and the Indian side has indicated that this condition could be accommodated through proper wording in the pact.
Japan is the only country to have faced a nuclear attack and is immensely sensitive to the issue, particularly considering that India is not an NPT signatory.
Observing that with India’s rapid economic growth, the demand for energy has been rising rapidly, Singh told the business leaders that cooperation between the two countries in this area will “enable Japanese companies to participate in India’s ambitious nuclear energy programme.”
The Prime Minister said Japan, as a global leader in energy efficient technologies, can play a significant role in helping India meet its energy needs in an environmentally-friendly manner.
“We seek Japanese technology and investment in conventional as well as new and renewable energy,” he said at the business luncheon hosted by Nippon Keidanren here.
After the Nuclear Suppliers Group gave a one-time waiver to India to conduct trade in peaceful atomic field in 2008, India has already signed civil nuclear agreements with eight countries -- the US, France, Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Namibia and Mongolia.
Japan was among the countries which supported the waiver for India despite having reservations over India not joining NPT. Japanese companies are keen to participate in India’s expanding nuclear industry which is expected to be worth several billion dollars in the next few years.
Ahead of his visit here, the Prime Minister said India offers huge opportunities in the nuclear sector and Japanese companies should become “partners,” given their advanced capabilities in this area.
Singh said the proposed pact would be a win-win proposition for both the countries besides helping in the global efforts to combat climate change.
“Developing countries like India seek new energy sources to sustain high rates of economic growth. We see nuclear energy as a vital component of our global energy mix,” Singh told some Japanese journalists in Delhi ahead of his visit here.
He said India was aware of the advanced capabilities of Japanese firms in the nuclear field and the important role they play in the global supply chain.
Referring to the proposed nuclear agreement with Japan, he expressed confidence that it would be completed but made it clear that there are no deadlines for concluding these negotiations.
When pointed out that Japan was putting the condition that it will annul the nuclear cooperation if India goes for a nuclear test and whether it was agreeable to India, Singh refused to comment on specific details as the negotiations are still underway.
He, however, said both countries would benefit from an agreement that provides a long-term and stable basis of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
This, he said, will contribute towards India’s energy security requirements and will also help in the global efforts to combat climate change.