• ‘Termination’ clause in India-Japan civil nuclear deal not binding on India

    The landmark civil nuclear deal signed with Japan last week has a “termination” clause contained in a note attached to the main text, which India says is not binding on the country.

    The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Friday, has a note on “Views and Understanding”, in which the Japanese side cited India’s September 2008 declaration of a unilateral moratorium on atomic tests, saying if this commitment is violated, the deal will be terminated.

    According to the Indian government, the note merely records the views of the two sides. “That note is simply a record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues. It is not the NCA (Nuclear Cooperation Agreement) which is what is binding,” a person familiar with the development said.

    The clarification comes in the wake of confusion on whether the note is part of the operative text of the agreement.

    “On termination, there is no change from the US template,” the person said. According to the 2008 India US agreement, in case either of the two countries terminates the agreement, the country that terminates the pact will have to give a year’s written notice to the other.

    “A Party giving notice of termination shall provide the reasons for seeking such termination,” says the text of the India-US agreement.

    “Before this Agreement is terminated… the parties shall consider the relevant circumstances and promptly hold consultations…to address the reasons cited by the party seeking termination. The party seeking termination has the right to cease further cooperation under this Agreement if it determines that a mutually acceptable resolution of outstanding issues has not been possible or cannot be achieved through consultations. The parties agree to consider carefully the circumstances that may lead to termination or cessation of cooperation. They further agree to take into account whether the circumstances that may lead to termination or cessation resulted from a party’s serious concern about a changed security environment or as a response to similar actions by other States which could impact national security,” says the text of the India-US agreement.

    Japan, the only country in the world to suffer nuclear attacks, has made a major exception by signing the atomic cooperation agreement with India, despite the latter not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    After the India-Japan deal was signed, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar had said that the pact was strikingly similar to atomic agreements India inked with the US and most of the other countries, having provisions like “termination” clause.

    During the joint press conference with Modi after the deal was signed, Abe had referred to India’s declaration of September 2008 with regard to voluntary moratorium on nuclear tests. “This agreement is a legal framework that India will act responsibly in peaceful uses of nuclear energy and also in Non-Proliferation regime even though India is not a participant or signatory of NPT,” he had said. P. J. Williams Authentic Jersey

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