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Deal or no deal? India, Japan wrangle over N-pact note

Document provides for cancellation of deal if India conductsa new nuclear test

Indian and Japanese officials continued to wrangle over the legality of a document signed as part of the nuclear deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo last week.

The document indicates a link between nuclear testing and the cancellation of the deal. While government sources say the document is “not legally binding,” a Japanese official insisted the document had been signed by the nuclear negotiators in the presence of Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi, and hence “legally binding.”

The ‘Note on Views and Understanding’ which was signed directly after the nuclear cooperation agreement contains contentious clauses that effectively allow Japan to invoke an “emergency” suspension of supplies if India were to test a nuclear weapon, and to contest any compensation claims from India in court. India has traditionally refused to link its nuclear trade with pre-conditions on testing, holding it is a matter of nuclear sovereignty, and instead giving a voluntary moratorium on tests.

In response to questions about the differences, government sources said the note is simply a “record by the negotiators of respective views on certain issues,” given “Japan’s special sensitivities as the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack.”

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