‘India, Japan civil n-deal may happen within two years’

Tokyo, May 29 (IANS) Japan Wednesday indicated that an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with India could happen in “shorter than two years”, but both sides seemed to tread cautiously in the matter given their respective stands on the contentious issues of Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Tonohika Taniguchi, councillor and a member of the Japanese prime minister’s strategic team, said that “both countries have agreed to an early commencement and conclusion of an agreement” on the civil-nuclear cooperation.

Though he refused to give a definite time frame for the agreement to take place, Taniguchi said that it could happen in “shorter than two years”.

Led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Japan, the Indian delegation was hoping for results on this front by the end of this year after his bilateral meeting with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

But the Japanese side said that it was working with India “to prepare the ground for India to become a member of the international export control regime” like the nuclear suppliers group (NSG).

“Prime Minister Abe recognized India’s sound non-proliferation record,” Taniguchi said.

India has not signed the NPT and the CTBT while Japan considers itself as “one of the more faithful members of the NPT”. But Japan has said that this “does not directly matter in the India and Japan relationship”.

Taniguchi agreed that the civil-nuclear deal and the NPT were interconnected but added that “substantial departure had been made from the past”.

Talks between both sides have been on for some time for a civil-nuclear agreement but the strict Japanese laws and stand on the issue are unlikely to make things easy.

India is a nuclear weapons state while Japan suffered when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 by the US during World War II.

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