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Selling nuke technology to a country who never signed NPT

November 9, 2016


EDITORIAL: Deal with India undermines nuclear nonproliferation



Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to arrive in Japan on Nov. 10 for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to sign a bilateral deal that will open the way for Japan’s nuclear reactor exports to India.

When the two prime ministers reached a basic agreement on this deal in December last year, we expressed our opposition. We now renew our objection and strongly urge the Japanese government to reconsider.

India became a nuclear power without becoming a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). To provide nuclear technology to such a nation flatly contradicts Japan’s traditional calls for nuclear disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Naturally, objections to the Japan-India treaty have been raised, not only by Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors but also by citizens of many countries demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The NPT recognizes only five nuclear powers--the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia--while promoting nuclear disarmament. The treaty also guarantees all other nations their right to peaceful use of nuclear power, such as operating nuclear reactors, provided they refrain from developing nuclear weapons.

In essence, the NPT prevents nations of the world from competing to develop nuclear weapons.

India has remained a nonsignatory to the NPT, objecting to the treaty’s unequal treatment of the nuclear powers and the rest of the world. But India has proceeded with nuclear development in the meantime on the pretext that this is for “peaceful purposes.”

We must say India has trampled on the very spirit of nuclear nonproliferation.

At one time, the international community moved in the direction of imposing economic sanctions on India but stopped marching in lockstep out of political and economic considerations, lured by India’s mammoth lucrative market.

After the United States, France and Russia signed nuclear treaties with India, the sanctions effectively went out the window.

However, since Japanese technology is used in nuclear reactors built by U.S. and French manufacturers, they cannot be exported without a Japan-India treaty. For this reason, the United States and France demanded that Japan conclude a deal with India.

But even then, if Japan is to champion nuclear disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons as the world’s sole victim of wartime nuclear attacks, surely its relationship with India should be different from that between India and those two nuclear powers.

India’s freeze on nuclear tests is merely voluntary, and the country has not even signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The Japanese government appears to be hoping to include in the bilateral agreement a clause to the effect that Japan will withdraw cooperation if India conducts a nuclear test.

But is there any guarantee that India will never extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel from reactors made with Japanese technology and use the plutonium to build nuclear weapons?

When the United Nations adopted a resolution late last month to start negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention, Japan opposed the resolution, saying it could undermine the NPT and the existing nuclear disarmament negotiations.

But the Japan-India nuclear deal may further weaken and even destroy the NPT.

Come to think of it, is it really appropriate for Japan, which caused the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, to export nuclear reactors to India?

We can never condone the folly of only seeking immediate commercial gains in selling nuclear reactors to a country that is turning its back on nuclear nonproliferation.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 9



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