India-Japan Nuclear Deal : Significance & Challenges

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Our growth projections demands greater energy production. Quest for cleaner energy is never ending. It is challenging to meet both cleaner and increased energy demands. Indo japan nuclear deal provides a better opportunity to actualize both targets. So understanding Indo- japan nuclear deal is important.

Introduction

  1. India-Japan partnership is regarded as a significant element contributing to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
  2. India and Japan, at last, signed an agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Both countries took several rounds of negotiations, which helped resolve several sticky issues.
  3. The joint document signed by the two countries lays down a roadmap for bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. “
  4. This deal would provide for the development of nuclear power projects in India and thus strengthening of energy security of the country.

Analysis

Key Points

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  1. Under the accord, India may reprocess nuclear materials and by-products, but cannot make highly enriched uranium without approval from Japan. Highly enriched uranium has the potential for use in nuclear weaponry.
  2. The main opposition Party in japan has spoken out against the bill, pointing out that since the provision to suspend the treaty was not included in the pact, there is no explicit guarantee to limit the use of nuclear technology.
  3. Tokyo has insisted that the treaty enables a strong response — by suspending cooperation — if India were to conduct nuclear tests. Unlike nuclear deals with Jordan and Vietnam, however, the India-Japan accord does not specify nuclear testing as a condition for terminating the agreement.

Chronology

  1. The negotiations have been underway for six years, but the negotiations were stuck because of political resistance in Japan after the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
  2. Japan and India signed a memorandum of understanding for civil nuclear cooperation in December 2015, when Abe was in Delhi for the annual bilateral summit, overcoming reservations over India’s status as a nation which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  3. This was transformed into a deal in November last year when PM Narendra Modi was in Tokyo for the summit. Subsequently the Japanese government got approval from the Diet (parliament) for the nuclear deal with India.  ..
  4. The landmark deal came into force in July this year with the completion of necessary formalities in both countries. This will enable Japan to export nuclear power plant technology as well as provide finance for nuclear power plants in India.

Importance of the deal

  1. For a vast country with ambitious development targets, India is in a dire need to augment its energy resources.
  2. India’s present level of electricity production cannot cope with the rapidly growing demands of the economy.
  3. In addition, India is the third largest importer of crude oil and the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
  4. Since nuclear energy would be relatively cheap and clean, India has to go all out to harness it. It is the only realistic option for ensuring a steady supply of energy to manage the skyrocketing demands for electricity.
  5. At present India’s nuclear power accounts for only three percent of its total electricity output, but it wants to increase its share to about twenty five percent in the next twenty years.
  6. In order to realise that goal, India has plans to build about eighty new nuclear reactors in the coming decades. If India could count on Japan’s advanced cutting edge reactor technologies, it could accelerate India’s progress in the nuclear power generation and take advantage of the convergent mutual interests with Japan. Japan itself is in the process of boosting the export of its nuclear technologies for peaceful uses.
  7. India is the only non-NPT signatory with which Japan has entered into a civil nuclear deal in what can be described as recognition for Delhi’s impeccable non-proliferation record
  8. It is indeed a much-needed moral boost for India’s aspirations of getting membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  9. The signing of the deal will boost the low volume and dipping bilateral trade.
  10. It will also give an impetus to the strategic military and defence relationship.
  11. The deal can be instrumental in countering China’s growing regional influence and in dealing with the uncertainty of US foreign policy after the US election outcome.
  12. From a Japanese point of view, negotiations with US-based Westinghouse Electric are in advanced stages and they have agreed to build six nuclear reactors in India. Japanese companies, such as Toshiba, have significant holdings in Westinghouse and other U.S. and French partners negotiating for nuclear reactors now. Signing of this deal makes it easier for such deals to materialise.
  13. Japan will assist India in nuclear waste management and may undertake joint manufacture of nuclear power plant components under Make in India initiative
  14. The finance for the project from the US Exim Bank remains intact and the initiative would start in 2018.

How similar is the Japan agreement to the US deal?

  1. The agreement with Japan makes an upfront commitment on safety (addressing post-Fukushima concerns) and recognises the statement made by India before the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008 in the preamble itself.
  2. It also combines several updates with International Atomic Energy Agency in the annexure of the agreement. Rest of the agreement mirrors that of the US with advance consent to reprocessing rights in IAEA safeguarded facility.

Concerns

  1. Westinghouse is caught in a bankruptcy quagmire and there is no functional reference atomic plant –– a pre-requisite to obtain permission from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), India’s nuclear watchdog.
  2. Westinghouse, which was acquired by Japanese conglomerate Toshiba in 2006 for $5.4 billion, filed for bankruptcy in March. Top Westinghouse officials visited India twice since March to assure that the project is on track.

Conclusion

  1. This Agreement is a reflection of the strategic partnership between India and Japan and will pave the way for enhanced cooperation in energy security and clean energy.
  2. It seeks to promote full cooperation between the two countries in the development and uses of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes on a stable, reliable and predictable basis
  3. The deal is essential for bringing a network of nuclear energy cooperation for India, especially with the U.S. as prominent American nuclear companies are owned by the Japanese nuclear majors like Toshiba.

Question

Q. “Many developed countries have been advocating for elimination nuclear usage altogether. But India – japan nuclear deal provides a better future for Indian energy security”- analyse

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