NEW DELHI:India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Saturday that Japan and India clinched a deal on ‘peaceful’ use of civil nuclear power.“A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed. It is a symbol of a new level of mutual trust and strategic partnership,” he stated at a press briefing in the follow-up to the meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Until recently, there have been serious doubts that Japan will seal a civil nuclear agreement with India due to the fact New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.Modi also said that both India and Japan also reached an agreement on the construction of a 500-kilometre railway linking the western Indian cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad. “No less historic is our decision to introduce high speed rail on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector through Japan’s Shinkansen, known for its speed, reliability and safety,” he said.“We greatly appreciate Prime Minister Abe’s extraordinary package of approximately $12 billion and technical assistance, on very easy terms, for this project,” the Indian prime minister said. The construction is due to start in 2017, with the goal of launching railway operations in 2023.
Briefing the media after summit-level meeting between the two prime ministers, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that substantive progress in the negotiations on ‘peaceful’ use of civil nuclear power have been made but legal, scientific and expert level talks are yet to be concluded. A joint statement also clarified that the final document sealing the nuclear deal would take sometime to emerge.It said that the agreement would be signed after the technical details, including those related to the internal procedures, were finalised. Apparently, the Indian side gave assurances to Japan’s strong non-proliferation lobby to expedite the deal, but the Japanese preferred to play safe and sought time necessary for Prime Minister Abe to convince the Japanese parliament on the assurances given by India.The Indian media reported that a major sticking point was Japan’s concerns about the state of civil nuclear cooperation in case India conducts further nuclear tests. “India is trusted internationally. That is why we are certain that the final deal will be concluded soon,” Jaishankar said while downplaying Japanese concerns.
Praising Modi’s reforms policies, Abe said that the Indian prime minister’s speed of implementing policies and reforms was like bullet train and his reform agenda was as safe as the bullet train. He also said that India has become a very attractive investment destination for Japan. “Strong Japan is good for India and strong India is good for Japan,” he said.