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2008年10月30日 (木)


(Mainichi Japan) October 29, 2008

International community 'approves' India's membership in the nuclear club


The 30-year-old nuclear embargo against India, who is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has been conducting nuclear experiments, was lifted last month, allowing India to officially import nuclear technology and atomic fuel. This is the same as the international community approving India's membership in the nuclear club. Without a doubt, this is an "NPT crisis." The result will certainly erode countries' motivation in taking the NPT seriously, as well as inflate the egos of countries such as North Korea and Iran who are suspected of engaging in nuclear activities. As the only country to have ever suffered from a nuclear attack, should Japan not play an active role in sustaining the NPT framework?


It all started in 2005 when the United States began negotiations to conclude a nuclear power pact with India with the aim of opening the channels for nuclear trade. The pact was signed and put into force on Oct. 10 this month. American industry, expecting to engage in nuclear business with India, backed the negotiations. The Bush administration was intent on putting the pact into effect during its tenure, which ends in January 2009, and urged Congress to hastily conclude debate on the issue. As if competing with the U.S., France also concluded a nuclear treaty with India last month, followed by Russia taking a turn at the negotiating table.


The most difficult hurdle for the U.S. was the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that controls nuclear-related exports. The NSG is a framework designed to prevent nuclear proliferation and was established on the occasion of India's nuclear test in 1974.The last two days of discussions at the extraordinary plenary session of the NSG held in Vienna last month continued until 2 a.m.


Austria, New Zealand and other countries demanded that India "affirm the ban on nuclear testing." The U.S. invited representatives of the naysayer countries to a separate room, and pressed them, arguing, "Can we afford to lose an opportunity with India, a country of 1 billion people?" The overly cautious nations were overpowered by the U.S. and Japan was unable to stem the tide. Ultimately, on Sept. 6, the NSG had but to agree with the "exception" and approve the export of nuclear fuel and technology to a non-NPT India.


The greatest problem here is that if India can import nuclear fuel for civil nuclear power generation, it can make use of its natural uranium to create nuclear weapons. Opponents point out that "India's capacity to produce nuclear weapons will expand from the current seven to a shocking 40-50 a year." The safeguard agreements that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded with India this August would only include inspection of 14 of 22 Indian nuclear facilities.


While the NPT requests nuclear arms reductions from the five nuclear nations (U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China), India only announced that it would "continue a moratorium on nuclear experiments." The U.S. explained that they will "acknowledge India, the world's largest democracy, as part of the mainstream of nuclear nonproliferation." However, this was nothing but a de facto approval of India's position as a non-NPT nuclear power.


Japan's handling of the matter was also poor. In the NSG negotiations, Nobutaka Machimura (ex-chief Cabinet secretary) stuck to ambiguity, arguing, "We will make comprehensive judgments." Japan claims that a shift from coal-fired thermal power to nuclear power can reduce greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming countermeasures. However, that does not mean that nuclear nonproliferation can be laid aside.


There is also the question of India's reliability. The U.S. private think tank the Institute for Science and International Security exposes unexacting Indian business practices, such as revealing centrifuge drawings during the procurement process, and that India "does not appear to appreciate the sensitivity of nuclear information management."


The very basics of nuclear nonproliferation are now at stake. Who can say no to America, the singular superpower that discriminates against the "rogue nations" of North Korea and Iran in favor of its ally, India? Japan should be the one to take on the leadership role in the nuclear ban. Why can't we say a clear-cut "no" at this crucial time when the NPT framework is falling apart?


The NPT framework that is subject to review every five years stands at a turning point. Allowing an "exception" for India will be the beginning of the storm in the coming 2010 NPT Review Conference in New York.


At this time, Yukiya Amano, ambassador to the International Organizations in Vienna, is campaigning to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei as the next director general of the "nuclear watchdog" IAEA. Now is the time for Japanese leadership in the nuclear nonproliferation sphere. (By Takuji Nakao, Vienna Bureau)




毎日新聞 20081023日 007分(最終更新 1023日 008分)


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