Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan last month saw the conclusion of an India-Japan nuclear deal that had long been in the works. Not so many years ago, that development would have elicited major international reaction, given India’s status as a nonsignatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The lack of such reaction to the latest bilateral agreement is perhaps due to the fact that India already has 14 such deals in place, with a list of countries that includes the United States, Russia and France.
Nevertheless, that India became the first non-NPT country to firm up such a deal with Japan does serve to undermine China’s opposition to India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which governs international trade in nuclear energy infrastructure and technology, on the grounds that New Delhi hasn’t signed the NPT.
Despite being a latecomer to India’s nuclear coming-out party, Japan managed to secure a supplementary note to the termination clause in the agreement, explicitly linking uninterrupted nuclear cooperation to India’s unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing. That went above and beyond what India has done for its other nuclear partners and is apparently meant to assuage domestic sensitivities in Japan. However, this very concession may also mean that Japanese nuclear sales to India will remain somewhat stunted, beset as they already are by issues of technology-transfer and reactor costs.