India and Japan agree in principle

15 December 2015

India and Japan have reached an agreement in principle to conclude a bilateral nuclear cooperation treaty that would allow Japan to export nuclear power plants to India during the ninth annual Indo-Japan summit talks in New Delhi, ending years of negotiations.

An inter-government agreement will be signed after certain technical and legal issues are finalised. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was a "shining symbol" of a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership. It will be the first time for Japan to sign a nuclear cooperation treaty with a non-signatory country to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

India and Japan began negotiations for nuclear cooperation in June 2010 but talks after the Fukushima accident in March 2011. According to Japanese officials who briefed reporters, in his meeting with Modi, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said Japan would suspend cooperation if India resumed nuclear testing. However, the Abe administration has placed the export of major infrastructure projects as a key pillar of its economic growth strategy, and is seeking to export nuclear power plant technology.

"We have achieved substantial progress as the key part of the agreement has been done," Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters. He said the pact will help Westinghouse Electric Corporation and GE Energy Inc to begin nuclear business in India as both have Japanese investments. "It is an important development, not a complete development," Jaishankar said.

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