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Japan/India: Diet Approves Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

(June 14, 2017) The upper house (House of Councillors) of the Diet (Japan’s parliament) approved the Japan-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on June 7, 2017. (Information on Bills: Japan-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, House of Councillors website (in Japanese).) The Agreement had previously been signed on November 11, 2016. (Reason for Submission: Treaty No. 3, Cabinet Legislation Bureau website (in Japanese).) The lower house (House of Representatives, HoR) approved the agreement on May 16, 2017. (Information on Bills, supra.)

Before the signing of the Japan-India Agreement, Japan had concluded nuclear cooperation agreements with 14 countries, including Britain, France, Jordan, Russia, Turkey, the United States, and Vietnam, and one organization, the European Nuclear Community (Euratom). (Atomic Power Related Treaties, MOFA (Dec. 1, 2015) (in Japanese).)

The Agreement will allow Japanese firms to export nuclear materials and technology to India for nonmilitary use. The Agreement is set to take effect in early July. (Reiji Yoshida, Diet Endorses Pact to Export Civil Nuclear Technology to India, JAPAN TIMES (June 7, 2017).) In addition to signing the Agreement, the two parties agreed to a Note and attached it to the document. (Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of India for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) website; Note on Views and Understanding, MOFA website (both last visited June 8, 2017).)

Either party can terminate the Agreement by giving one year’s written notice to the other party. (Agreement, art. 14 ¶ 1.)  Following the cessation of cooperation under the terms of the Agreement, either party has the right to require the return of any nuclear material, nonnuclear material, or equipment transferred pursuant to the Agreement and any special fissionable material recovered or produced as a by-product. (Id. art. 14 ¶ 4.) Further, reprocessing as provided for under the Agreement can be suspended by either party in “exceptional circumstances.” (Id. art. 14 ¶ 9.) In the Note, it is stated that Indian actions in violation of its September 5, 2008, statement on a nuclear testing moratorium (see below) applies to such suspensions. (Note I (iii).)

Background on India and Nuclear Power

Because India is not a signatory to either the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, some opposition parties in Japan argued that the accord would damage the credibility of the nuclear proliferation treaty system. (Shinji Oguma, HoR Member, Questions Regarding the Japan-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (Apr. 14, 2017) (in Japanese).) In addition, groups of survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have expressed opposition to the agreement. (Nuclear Accord with India Draws Fire from A-Bomb Survivors, Others, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Nov. 12, 2016).)

India conducted tests of nuclear explosions in 1974 and 1998 and declared a moratorium on further testing on September 5, 2008. (Statement by External Affairs Minister of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee on the Civil Nuclear Initiative (September 5, 2008 statement), Indian Ministry of External Affairs website (Sept. 5, 2008); Reshmi Kazi, CTBT at 20: India and an Unequal Treaty, IDSA NEWS (Sept. 23, 2016).) India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded agreements for the application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities in 1971, 1994, and 2009. (India Safeguards Agreement Signed, IAEA (Feb. 2, 2009).) Indian nuclear reactors were divided between those for civilian and military uses, and 22  civilian reactors were placed under the IAEA safeguards by the end of December 2014. (Indian N-facilities Under IAEA Safety Umbrella, HINDU (Dec. 29, 2014).) India needs more electric power in coming years. To that end, the Indian government approved construction of ten pressurized heavy water reactors in May 2017. (Cabinet Approves Construction of 10 Units of India’s Indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR), BUSINESS STANDARD (May 17, 2017).)