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Why Japan Must Not Sell Nuclear Technology To India

Why Japan Must Not Sell Nuclear Technology To India

The negotiations of the India-Japan Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (Herein after referred to as “Agreement”) that defines the nuclear trade between two countries, has been almost finalised and must already be in the form of document to be signed when the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit India from December 11 2015. There is every sign to believe that this time the Agreement would be consummated at Mr. Abe’s summit meeting with the Indian PM Mr. Modi.

When this Agreement enters into force, it will become possible for India to expand the production of nuclear weapons, and also fast-track a massive nuclear power plant expansion. If nuclear trade between Japan and India is initiated, it would enable India to use Japanese-made advanced components and precision technologies in new nuclear power plants. Japan’s nuclear-related companies such as the TOSHIBA, HITACHI and MITSUBISHI have been aiming to enter the huge Indian nuclear power market, and they are sure to make big profits.

The most important implication of the “agreement” is the collapse of the international nuclear Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) which has been the cornerstone of the global Non-Proliferation framework. In addition, India that does not subscribe to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), is effectively being recognised as a nuclear weapons power by Japan in this special move. This agreement is an abandonment of the important foreign policy that Japan is committed to.

More than being important foreign policy, disarmament and non-proliferation diplomacy have been central tenets of Japanese postwar national policy. This agreement however is in open disregard of the NPT regime and runs counter to the movement towards the abolition of nuclear weapons by the international community. From atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Fukushima TEPCO nuclear accident experience, Japan has led the movement of nuclear disarmament in the world for many decades. However, recognition of India as a “nuclear power state” despite being a non NPT signatory, is a bad precedent for disarmament.

As Fukushima is an ongoing disaster, the agreement is clearly a move to allow Japanese nuclear corporations to make profits abroad. Despite strong oppositions from civil societies and grassroots struggles from Japan and India along with solidarity from international anti nuclear groups, the agreement has come as a brutal authoritarian move by the leaders of both the governments.

This deal undemocratic as it disregards India’s protesting people and international cooperation to undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime which proves Japan a self-righteous military state out to maximise profit in a country of nuclear weapons. What Japan is normalising is actually a serious breach of faith and nuclear non-proliferation regime by India, which conducted nuclear tests twice while remaining outside the NPT framework. Specially in the first set of nuclear test conducted by India in 1974, the fuel obtained in civil deals was directed for military purposes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out tough regulations for for more than 35 years which didn’t allow India new construction of nuclear power plants, uranium fuel imports or even innovation of nuclear power plant technology. That percentage of power generated by nuclear is sluggish at about 3% and has been a significant factor in the downturn of the economy.

After the end of cold war, India’s relations with US were improving and there was a second round of nuclear experiments in 1998. In early 2000s, the Bush administration found the dense population of India as a good market for direct investment in energy, various infrastructure development, arms exports. It changed the foreign policy towards India to regard it as a “counterweight” to China.

The international community led by the United States abolished restrictions on India at the IAEA and NSG regarding nuclear export. This exceptional nuclear cooperation for India, was started in the US-India Summit Joint Statement of 2005 and officially established by nuclear cooperation agreement in 2007. The NSG approved it the following year, while the IAEA signed a India and “exceptional” safeguards agreement in 2009. Thus India was also exempted from responsibility for the safeguards imposed on the nuclear-weapon states of the NPT. This “exception”, blatantly ignores all efforts of the international community towards the non proliferation as spelled out in NPT. In India, IAEA safeguards are applied on 14 out of 22 reactors that have been marked as civilian, while India retains 8 military reactors, including the fast breeder reactor out of the IAEA safeguards. The civilian facilities accept safeguards of the IAEA voluntarily the, but military facilities will be excluded.The plutonium separated by the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, is used in the Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR). Existing FBR facilities are military and are excluded from monitoring, only the FBR to be established later are subjected to safeguards.  Due to this exceptional arrangement, facilities of nuclear weapons manufacturing in India are no longer under any monitoring. This has allowed India to claim itself as the “sixth nuclear-weapon states” and enabled both expansion of nuclear power plant and nuclear weapons production. In return the Indian government made a commitment to purchase foreign-made nuclear power plants.The international nuclear industry rushed to enter India which became the world’s most promising nuclear power plant market and more than 10 countries signed a nuclear cooperation agreement.

A large number of nuclear energy projects were launched in India as a means to improve power infrastructure and promote economic growth.

Three projects have been undertaken by Japanese corporates:

(1) Jaitapur nuclear power plant plan project (West India, Maharashtra) is a project undertakes by the ATMEA which is a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and French Areva Company. It comprises of 2 plants (each 1650 MW) of third-generation European pressurized-water reactor (EPR).

(2)For Mithi Virdi power plant plan project (West India, Gujarat), the Toshiba group affiliated subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC, Inc.) has received the order of 6 plants each of 1000 MW.

(3) Kodava power plant plan project (South India, Andhra Pradesh) has been undertaken by the Hitachi and the American GE worked as a joint venture under the name of Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy (GEH) company.

This project involves 6 plants of the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor each of 1000 megawatts (ESBWR).

Technology and equipments provided by Japanese companies are essential for the nuclear power plants established in India and therefore there was a need of the agreement.

In particular, the reactor pressure vessel fabrication for nuclear power plant involving large forgings are a specialty of the Japan Steel Works Co., which has roughly eighty percent of the world market share. Therefore, the agreement is also strongly backed by the international nuclear industry.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan in the Democratic Party government began negotiations for the agreement in June 2010 as infrastructure exports part of the “New Growth Strategy”. In the negotiations, the following three issues were important.

(1) Termination of the nuclear agreement in the event of any future nuclear tests by India
(2) The problem posed by Indian nuclear liability law that allows claim for damages from plant manufacturer,in case of an accident.
(3) Whether to tolerate the re-processing of spent nuclear fuel by India.

Negotiations stagnated after TEPCo’s Fukushima accident. However, diplomatic negotiations for the Agreement were actually accelerated as exports became a top priority of the government under the second Abe administration.

Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is a sensitive process where potential diversion of the fuel for nuclear weapons is possible. India’s request for the re-processing of the spent fuel was accepted by the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia in bilateral agreements. During his visit to India of President Obama this year in January, the two countries “agreed collectively to advance nuclear technology” meaning effectively that they have addressed the reprocessing issue in the “comprehensive pre-agreement”.

According to the Arms Control Association, a well known international disarmament NGO is as follows: “Nuclear Fuel provided by the US should be processed only in certain nuclear reactors provided by the United States” India’s submission before the IAEA have insisted on the right to reprocess all nuclear fuel . As a result, the spent fuel is to be “a monitored by calculation of the amount of plutonium generated” in the US-supplied reactors.

This year in June, media reported that Japan was also following the full-scale acceptance of the United States re-processing. Japan as an exporter of conventional nuclear power plants, never admitted the re-processing in the partner country in the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement as it can be diverted to nuclear weapons production. Therefore the Indo-Japan nuclear agreement is not only about selling nuclear power plant technology but also allows reprocessing, hence nuclear weapon production and ignores the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. India even now has the military power of the nuclear weapons which is not allowed to it apparently.

The disastrous images of Fukushima accident, evacuation by large number of people and radioactive contamination had further made the local people of India determined to oppose construction of nuclear power plants. The planned sites for the establishment of the nuclear power plants are also rich in natural resources. These constructions take away livelihood of people, lead to large displacements and destroy the natural environment. These areas are generally away from the big city and do not themselves require much power consumption.

The Abe administration has decided to sign the “agreement” in the visit to India from December 11, which seems to be a policy of the approved in ordinary Diet session in January. The people of Japan and a total of 16 organizations of the major NGO involved in the anti-nuclear power and anti-nuclear weapons are protesting against it.

The Executive Committee of this opposition movement invited Mr. Kumar Sundaram of the CNDP, Delhi and Ms.Vaishali Patel of Jaitapur nuclear power plant. There was ahuge collective meeting in Hiroshima and Osaka and several rallies were conducted in Tokyo and Fukushima along with negotiations with the government.In her first visit to Fukushima , Ms. Vaishali Patel remarked that on seeing the ruins of the city, they had decided to not allow the construction of a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur. She also reported the rise of the local farmers and fishermen involved in the anti nuclear struggle of Jaitapur. Mr. Sundaram strongly argued in National Diet and the Prime Minister’s Office against Japanese government’s decision to sign the Indo-Japan agreement. Voicing the opinion of Indian people he said that
And as India people’s voice, he reported that “nuclear power plants perpetuate the hugely centralised development which does not really help common people, it impacts Indian poor adversely and hence must be abandoned.”

These two Indian activists questioned Japan’s decision to export nuclear to India, while it’s still facing the ongoing Fukushima accident. Nuclear exports to India is actually a major transformation of Japan’s nuclear nonproliferation policy. And unfortunately that’s happening in a world when proliferation must be taken much more seriously. Nuclear weapons should be unacceptable in anybody’s hands.

There is also a link between the export of nuclear technology and reopening of nuclear power plants in Japan. Japan must urge India to sign the NPT India. To strengthen ties with India, It should rather work together towards supplying renewable and clean energy which is suitable for the Indian people. Even if the “agreement” is signed during Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India, the efforts to oppose th ratification would go on. Japanese people will also continue to oppose expansion of nuclear weapons by India.


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