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India to Get Full Access to Japan’s Nuclear Technology

June 8, 2017 (EIRNS)—On June 7, at the plenary session of the Upper House of the Diet, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party cleared the way for India to have full access to Japan’s nuclear materials and technology. Under the accord, India may reprocess nuclear materials and by-products, but cannot make highly enriched uranium without approval from Japan. Highly enriched uranium can also be used in nuclear weaponry. The agreement was signed last November during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo, but needed ratification by the Diet.

The deal required a high degree of input from both the Indian Premier and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, since India has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). NPT prohibits non-signatory nuclear weapon states, such as India, from having access to nuclear materials and technology. The deal also pointed out that the agreement will be nullified if India carries out a nuclear test, or even a sub-critical test. However, Modi and Abe succeeded in adding a provision that gives a special consideration to carrying out a nuclear test in cases where a third-party state acts in a way that threatens India’s national security, The Japan Times reported.

The nuclear agreement is very important for India’s nuclear program, since the Modi administration wants nuclear to become a key ingredient of India’s power industry in the coming decades. India has 22 nuclear power plants in place, and another five under construction. However, Japan’s present ability to export nuclear reactors has been badly diminished since the Japanese nuclear reactor manufacturer Toshiba’s partner, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy protection in March, 2016. India was scheduled to receive six AP-1000 units from Westinghouse, but that has now become a part of history and has badly weakened Toshiba financially.

"Conditions have changed due to Toshiba and other issues," said Takeo Kitsukawa, a professor at Tokyo University of Science. "The first issue is how to get [nuclear reactor] manufacturers back on their feet," Kitsukawa commented, The Japan Times reported.