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Japan Pushes India to Refrain From Nuke Testing in Trade Talks

Japan wants India in any bilateral atomic-trade agreement to promise to refrain from further nuclear-weapons testing, the Times of India reported on Wednesday.

New Delhi and Tokyo on Tuesday relaunched negotiations for a nuclear-cooperation accord that had been stalled since the March 2011 tsunami that caused the Fukushima atomic reactor disaster in Japan. India wants to be able to import advanced Japanese nuclear technology for its growing atomic-energy industry. Japan for its part wants to be certain that none of its products are used in India's nuclear-weapons program, which exists outside of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Then-Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a September 2008 statement to the Nuclear Suppliers Group said that New Delhi was committed to the principles of nonproliferation and disarmament. He further said India would support negotiations for an international treaty that bans the production of new fissile material and would abstain from further nuclear testing. Japan wants that statement included in any two-way deal with India on atomic trade.

New Delhi, however, reportedly feels that it is not necessary to include Mukherjee's statement in the text of the sought-after accord.

Tokyo also reportedly is demanding the right to cancel all atomic trade with New Delhi, should it resume nuclear testing. India is said to feel that its 2008 statement to the NSG body is sufficient to cover concerns about nuclear testing.

Another point of contention is India's call for rights in the trade agreement to reprocess spent nuclear material -- a process that can yield both reactor fuel and fissile material.

Informed insiders said some headway was achieved in Tuesday's meeting and that the two nations have agreed to hold another round of trade talks sometime before December.

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