India, Japan to Seal the Nuclear/REE Deal


"India has seized the opportunity to fill the gap following China's export block."

India is ready to seal a civilian nuclear deal and boost trade ties with Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, as New Delhi looks to prove its friendship in the wake of Tokyo's bitter territorial spat with Beijing.

Singh said India would like Tokyo to be its partner in nuclear energy, noting that Japan has "one of the highest and most advanced nuclear technologies."

Japan and India launched talks in June on signing an atomic civilian cooperation agreement that will allow Tokyo to export nuclear power generation technology to energy-hungry India.

But Japan, which was hit by World War II US atomic bombings, has warned India that conducting any new nuclear tests would force a halt to any civilian nuclear cooperation with the South Asian giant, as India has developed nuclear arms without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"With regards to tests, we have unilaterally declared a moratorium on explosive testing and we have no intention" of revising that commitment, Singh said in an interview broadcast by NHK.

Singh and Kan were Monday expected to declare the completion of talks on an economic partnership agreement (EPA), which Singh said would open up the fast-growing Indian market to Japanese firms.

Japan's relations with China, Asia's other population giant, hit bottom in a row following Japan's arrest of a Chinese trawlerman last month in disputed waters.

India has seized on China's export block as a chance to step into a gap.

"This should be an added incentive for many countries which have a potential to produce rare earths to take advantage of that opportunity," Singh said.

India holds 3% of global reserves of rare earth minerals, accounting for 2% of global production, while China accounts for 36% of global reserves and 97% of global production.

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