Japan asks India to sign CTBT as Precondition to Lift Sanctions

By Suryamurthy Ramachandran | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - Japan on Wednesday asked India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as a pre-condition to lifting economic sanctions.

Japanese sanctions have prevented India from receiving $2.5 billion in Japanese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and about $12 billion in aid pledges from the World Bank-sponsored Aid India Consortium

"Relations between Japan and India are basically good," Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi told visiting Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. "But the nuclear issue remains a thorn in the throat. India's signing of the CTBT would remove that thorn."

Japan, a major economic donor, imposed economic sanctions after India tested nuclear devices in May 1998.

Singh, the first Indian leader to visit the country since the nuclear tests, said: "India is committed not to conduct further nuclear tests. We do not intend to destroy the non-proliferation regime for weapons of mass destruction."

He said the Indian Parliament would discuss the issue of signing the CTBT.

"India's nuclear program or tests were not targeted against any specific country but were only for strategic security measures," Singh added.

Earlier this month, the Indian Foreign Minister held talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to discuss nuclear disarmament. The two leaders are scheduled to meet again in January.

Since India's nuclear tests in May last year, Washington and New Delhi have engaged in a prolonged series of arms controls talks aimed at reconciling U.S. non-proliferation concerns with Indian security interests.

New Delhi, citing regional threats, insists on a minimum nuclear deterrent. India released a draft nuclear doctrine in August that envisaged a sophisticated nuclear arsenal based on aircraft, ships and mobile land-based missiles.

India and neighboring Pakistan have gone to war three times over disputed territory in their 50-year history. Pakistan also tested nuclear devices in May 1998 and is also subjected to international sanctions.