By Asma Khalid
The international community today is faced with the dilemma of nuclear proliferation. It has proved to be the gravest challenge for mankind for its catastrophic nature has the tendency to send mankind back to Stone Age. In order to fight of this challenge many arrangements such as global peace treaties, regimes and agreements have been established. But these arrangements has a lot of flaw which have been manipulated by the member states to serve their purpose and in turn challenge the efforts of arms control. Recently, Japan and India hit a civil nuclear deal for peaceful use of nuclear energy. This arrangement will permit Japan to supply nuclear-related technology, fuel, and equipment to India. The nuclear deal will directly increase the ability of India to generate nuclear power both quantitatively and qualitatively. Economic, political and strategic interests are considered as an essential foundation for India’s civil nuclear deals.
India-Japan nuclear deal is an exception for many reasons. First, in the past in reaction to the Pokhran test (1998), Japan had raised many concerns regarding India’s nuclear program and imposed numerous economic sanctions on India. Second, despite been very critical of India’s nuclear program and victim of the nuclear attack, now Japan has signed a nuclear agreement with known violator of IAEA Safeguards and Non-NPT state. Additionally, since its inception, India-Japan nuclear deal is considered as a destabilizing arrangement for nonproliferation efforts and regional stability.
The latest Japan-India nuclear deal comes in the wake of following developments: Boosting economy, military purpose, strategic cooperation and regional politics. First, India-Japan nuclear agreement is an extraordinary step to increase India’s economic development and growth. Bilateral trade and economic relations establish a unique segment of bilateral cooperation. Prime Minister Modi is pursuing the ‘Make in India policy,’ this strategy aims to design, manufacture and produce military arms to achieve self-reliance. To reduced dependence on imports and achieved greater self-sufficiency in the area of defence equipment India desires to achieve double-digit growth rate. Modi government believes that ‘Make in India objective’ can reach through Japan-India cooperation as the partnership with Japan will provide quality infrastructure making Indian markets attractive to foreign investors. This development presents that nuclear agreement will potentially contribute to a conventional and nuclear arms race in Asia. Secondly, keeping regional security challenges in mind, civil nuclear deal remain of strategic significance for India. The traditional rivalry with Pakistan, China’s rising influence and growing naval presence in the South China Sea and China-Pakistan cooperation (CPEC) are the factors due to which India is desperately cooperating with other regional countries to respond security and geopolitical challenges. Japan-India nuclear cooperation has significant strategic implications for the Indo-Pacific region. Bilateral ties are considered a vital instrument by India and Japan to counter china’s expansion and keep it’s economic, military and political influence inbound.
The bilateral nuclear agreement is limited to commercial use but International community especially anti-nuclear group has expressed grave concerns regarding India-Japan nuclear agreement. Because pact permits India to enrich uranium and reprocess fuel and this highly enriched uranium can be used to enhance nuclear capabilities. However, both states have insisted that agreement is limited to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. To ensure this objective a termination clause has been added by Japan that if India conducted a nuclear test then deal will be terminated. But termination clause is not much remarkable because if once India launches any nuclear test then it would be practically impossible for Japan to take back the reactors and technology it has already supplied. Technological similarities for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the production of nuclear weapons has complicated the India-Japan Nuclear deal and posed serious repercussions to the task of preventing nuclear arms proliferation.
Provided, if India remains committed to terms of the nuclear agreement and cease nuclear testing, then trends of co-operative relationship and regional stability can be witnessed, but past events present that India will not stop its vertical proliferation. Furthermore the indo-pacific politics and triangle of Pakistan, China and India has added a lot more new variables to make the regional security equation more complicated. In this context two prospects are prevailing: First, India aims to upgrade its outdated army through military modernization. Secondly, India is trying to cover the gap with China. To achieve these objectives, India introduced a new military doctrine in 2004 as a part of its grand strategy to ensure training, procurement, services and national policies to achieve an edge in future military operations under the nuclear umbrella. Under this scenario, India is determined to get Nuclear Supplier Group’s membership and enhancing nuclear cooperation to increase nuclear capabilities. These dynamics indicate that recent India-Japan civil nuclear deal will have an adverse effect on the global nonproliferation efforts as nuclear technology and equipment acquired from Japan will fuel the India’s nuclear program directly or indirectly.
It is imperative to note that India would continue to increase nuclear capabilities as it is not committed to stop vertical proliferation. Another alarming situation is that in past India is failed to full fill terms and conditions directly or indirectly attached to IAEA safeguards and previous nuclear deals. These trends present that India’s so-called civil nuclear deals are viewed as a destabilizing factor and biggest challenge to efforts of non-proliferation. It is perceived that such deals will severely damage the nuclear nonproliferation agenda and aggravated the tension in the region. Furthermore, Japan been a proponent of global nuclear zero ignoring the India’s intentions and calmness of the players of Nuclear Non-proliferation reveal that nuclear powers have always adhered to a state-centric approach in addressing proliferation challenges. This approach of players of Non-proliferation has led to the major setback to global efforts of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation.
Asma Khalid is a Research Affiliate at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) in Islamabad, Pakistan