India, Japan differ on CTBT in joint statement

Tokyo, May 29 (IANS) India and Japan continue to differ on the contentious issue of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) even though Japan has assured it would work to prepare the ground for India to become a full member of the international control regimes for nuclear exports.

In a joint statement issued here by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on the “Strengthening of strategic and global partnership” between India and Japan, the CTBT issue continued to be an irritant.

“The two prime ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Abe stressed the importance of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date. Prime Minister Singh reiterated India’s commitment to its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing,” the joint statement said.

India, a nuclear weapons state, has refused to sign the CTBT while maintaining that it was committed to a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing.

But Japan offered help India in civil nuclear cooperation.

“Prime Minister Abe recognized India’s sound non-proliferation record. Both sides expressed their commitment to continue to work to prepare the ground for India to become a full member in the international export control regimes: the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement,” the statement said.

“The two prime ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to working together for immediate commencement and an early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT),” it said.

Manmohan Singh later said: “The joint statement reflects our mutual understanding and the steps we are taking to advance our relationship. Prime Minister Abe and I had wide-ranging discussions over the past two days, characterized by a convergence that is fully consistent with our global and strategic partnership. Our discussions were guided by the fundamental belief that at a time of global uncertainties, change and challenges, India and Japan are natural and indispensable partners for advancing prosperity in our two countries and for a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.”

He said that India and Japan attached importance to intensifying their political dialogue and strategic consultations and progressively strengthening defence relations, including through naval exercises and collaboration in defence technology.

“Cooperation in high technology, space, energy security and rare earth minerals will also add rich content to our strategic partnership,” Manmohan Singh added.

Welcoming the expanding defence relations between two countries, the joint statement expressed satisfaction over the first bilateral exercise between the Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in June 2012 off the Japanese coast. Both sides decided to conduct such exercises on a regular basis with increased frequency.

They also decided to establish a Joint Working Group (JWG) to explore modalities for taking forward Japan’s offer of the US-2 amphibious aircraft. This is in response to the Indian Navy’s Request for Information (RFI) for nine amphibious SAR (Search And Rescue) aircraft.

Both countries expressed concern over North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, including its uranium enrichment activities. They urged North Korea to fully comply with its obligations under the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Seeking early reforms in the United Nations, including the expansion of the UNSC in both permanent and non-permanent categories, particularly through the efforts of the G-4 so as to reflect contemporary geopolitical realities, both countries decided to soon hold the first India-Japan Consultation on UN Issues. The G-4 also includes Germany and Brazil.

“We had a meeting of minds in our discussions on global and regional issues. We will seek reforms in the United Nations Security Council, an open, rule-based and balanced regional architecture and deeper regional economic integration and connectivity,” Manmohan Singh said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected]

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