High-Ranking Japanese Official Urges India to Abandon Nuclear Weapons Program

Japan's top government spokesman on Wednesday refused to acknowledge India as a nuclear weapons state, demanding the south Asian nation join the international nonproliferation treaty.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki also urged India to abandon its atomic weapons program, denying a newspaper report Wednesday that Tokyo was mulling acknowledging India's nuclear possession.

"Japan and the global community have valued the international system of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation based on the NPT," he said, referring to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. "We will continue to seek the admission of India into the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state."

Shiozaki said Tokyo will carefully study details of the U.S.-India nuclear pact signed in December, in which Washington agreed to supply the Indian power industry with fuel and technology, an exemption to American law that bans nuclear trade with countries such as India that have not submitted to full international inspections.

In exchange, India agreed to place 14 civilian nuclear plants under international inspections, though eight military plants would remain off-limits.

The mainstream Yomiuri newspaper on Wednesday reported that the Japanese government is considering officially supporting the U.S.-India pact in a bid to gain a foothold in the Indian industry by providing Japanese power generation know-how — an exception for Japan's non-proliferation policy.

Shiozaki denied the report.

In December, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, agreed to bolster bilateral economic and military cooperation, but Abe expressed concerns about India's nuclear capabilities, and urged India to abide by international rules and address worries about proliferation. During the talks, Abe fell short of stating Japan's position on the U.S.-India nuclear pact.

A nuclear cooperation bill signed by U.S. President George W. Bush also requires Indian officials to negotiate a safeguard agreement with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.