India Japan Civil Nuclear Agreement

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11-Jul-2017

What is the issue?

Recently, the Japanese Parliament (Diet) has endorsed the controversial Japan-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement that will allow the nation’s firms to export nuclear materials and technology to India for nonmilitary use.

Why the Diet resisted?

  • The ruling coalition of Japan voted for the pact, while opposition forces voted against it.
  • The pact has been a source of contention because India is neither a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) nor of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
  • Opposition also argued that the accord will damage the credibility of the NPT system and help India acquire nuclear technology and materials.
  • There was also political resistance in Japan against a nuclear deal with India, particularly after the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.
  • Opposition have said that exports of nuclear technology may not be profitable for nation firms.
  • The last stage of negotiations was keenly watched due to a “nullification clause”.
  • The clause states that an Indian action in violation could be viewed as a serious departure from the prevailing situation and Japan might exercise its right to terminate nuclear cooperation.

How the agreement is significant for India?

  • India signed a landmark nuclear deal with the US in 2008, clearing the path for the country to source nuclear power plants and technology from international markets.
  • But with Japanese companies in possession of critical technologies, an accord with Japan was pivotal for India.
  • The deal is significant as it will help guarantee Japan’s continued support to India’s civil nuclear programme.
  • Under the agreement, Japanese firms may supply nuclear materials, equipment and technologies to India for “peaceful and non-explosive purposes.”
  • The companies may also provide support services for designing, building and operating reactors.
  • The deal is also likely to revitalise Japanese nuclear majors that are yet to recover from the setback of the Fukushima accident.
  • The nuclear issue in many ways was a constraint. It was preventing India and Japan from engaging in a more robust and wide spectrum manner.
  • The deal will bring Japan into the Indian nuclear market where France and Russia have already have a strong presence.
  • In the face of surging power demand due to rapid economic and population growth, India is seeking to build more nuclear reactors.
  • India currently has 5.7 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power generation capacity.
  • India’s Department of Atomic Energy’s target is to have 63GW of nuclear power capacity by 2032.
  • Also, New Delhi aims to boost nuclear power generation nationwide so that it accounts for nearly 25% of all electricity in the country by 2050.

What is the need for Nuclear Power in India?

  • The cost of coal power would be some 30 to 50 per cent higher in coming days.
  • Then there is a threat of climate change and the concern for environmental pollution.
  • The hydro power is unevenly distributed across months.
  • Solar power is available only when the sun is shining unless it is stored in some way.
  • Thus, to provide power when the sun is not shining, a balancing power is needed.
  • In India, more than 70% of petroleum products are based on imports.
  • India’s known extractable coal reserves will run out in about 40 years.
  • For India, renewable energy is inevitable and nuclear option should be retained as an insurance.
  • Nuclear power also helps diversify the system and adds to energy security.

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