Nuclear Suppliers Group takes up PAK & IND membership on Monday

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Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the cartel of 48 nuclear supplier countries – would take up the membership cases of Pakistan and India in its annual plenary meeting, commencing from Monday in Seoul. During the week-long deliberations, the Group would take up the matter for according member status to both the nuclear nations -Pakistan and India, the sources privy to the subject revealed to APP here on Sunday. Pakistan had formally submitted its membership application on May 19, 2016 while India applied a week earlier, the day it had resumed nuclear weapons testing after twenty-four years in 1998.

The sources expressed the hope that the group will strictly adhere to the non-discriminatory and unbiased approach while considering grant of a `participating government’ status to Pakistan. “Pakistan considers that the nature of threat that exists today, needs to be addressed collectively and therefore, sees itself as a like-minded partner in the global non-proliferation efforts being member of the nuke supplier band,” they said.  “As a responsible state, Pakistan is participating in and cooperating with the international community in efforts to prevent and control proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

“NSG should follow an objective, equitable and non-discriminatory approach for admitting new members. Grant of exclusive NSG membership to only one non-NPT country would adversely affect progress in non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament measures at the multilateral forums, as well as regional peace, security and stability,” they added. Being party to the Non-proliferation Treaty is one of main factors considered for admitting new participating governments in the NSG. Like India and Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are also not signatories of NPT. North Korea withdrew from NPT in 2006 before conducting its first nuclear test.

The sources maintained that Pakistan seeks a non-discriminatory and rule-based system for wider access to peaceful nuclear technologies, an imperative for its socio-economic and technological development. Blocking access to these regulatory arrangements for high-end dual use technologies would tantamount to capping Pakistan’s development and stunning the energy starved nation’s peaceful development. Dispelling the impression of a delay in pursuit of the NSG membership case, they observed that Pakistan has remained proactively engaged with the Group since the advent of this millennium and there was no substance in such misperceptions.

Commenting on the situation, Executive Director of Islamabad based Centre for International Strategic Studies Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi said, “Pakistan’s case to become NSG member is very strong as it fulfills all the requirements. Pakistani public has pinned high hopes for a non-discriminatory consideration on NSG”. As seen in 2008, NSG’s decisions are heavily influenced by strong American lobbying. In an exceptional move the US had secured a special trade waiver for India in spite of its domestic laws and non-proliferation norms that do not permit such exemption. Despite being a non-NPT state, Pakistan has been a responsible nuclear power and synergistically works with and in accordance with International Atomic Energy Authority’s (IAEA) standards, the Ambassador said.

He added that the country has a well-defined and robust command and control system under National Command Authority for nuclear safety, security, non-proliferation, export control and WMD counter-terrorism measures, which are some of the credentials considered for awarding membership. In order to regulate exports of goods, technologies, material and equipment related to nuclear and biological weapons, and their delivery systems, Pakistan promulgated Export Control Act in September 2004. The Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Ordinance (CWCIO) already exists since 2000, he added.

Consistent with the decision of NSG Plenary meeting held on 3 April 1992 at Warsaw, Pakistan believes that strategic and political expediencies as well as commercial competition should not compromise the mutually shared non-proliferation objectives of NSG. Discriminatory approach for membership would adversely affect regional peace, security and stability. Equally, it will undermine the global non-proliferation regime, he stressed. As recognition of Pakistan’s capability to contribute to global nuclear research, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has granted her status of Associate Member.

Pakistan, being one of the developing state is the only nation which has been contributing the highest number of scientists (out of total 300, 37 scientists are Pakistanis) in CERN programme whereas India is not even member of the world’s highly prestigious colloquium. This indicates that Pakistan would positively participate in NSG too. Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, who heads Strategic Vision Institute and is a leading specialist on India, said that Pakistan has legitimate needs for power generation to meet the growing energy demand of the expanding economy. Civil nuclear power generation under IAEA safeguards is an essential part of the country’s national energy security plan to support sustained economic growth and industrial development, and this can be easily achieved if the status of NSG membership is approved, he said.

Every Pakistani citizen, industrial and business unit is mainly dependent on electricity and any different decision will be taken as discrimination against them. Pakistan has established an autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) that closely collaborates with the IAEA, particularly on matters of nuclear safety, security and radiation protection. Professor Cheema said “Pakistan has a four-decade long experience of safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants.” He said Pakistan has offered its various facilities as Centre of Excellence to act as regional and international hub for nuclear security training.

Pakistan’s all civil nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards and have never been found inconsistent with its safeguards obligations. Pakistan commits to place all foreign supplied nuclear reactors under safeguards. Some observers have noted that India still keeps its eight reactors outside safeguards, which is the largest and fastest unsafeguarded program in the world. Recently Western experts made revelations about a secret nuclear city that India is building to develop thermo-nuclear weapons. Dr Cheema highlighted the need that instead of relying on meagre telephonic contacts with the NSG members, Pakistan may undertake more effective and result oriented diplomacy at the top political echelons for seeking NSG membership.

Ambassador Ali Naqvi, further commenting on qualifications to be given status of member, said that as a country with advanced nuclear fuel cycle capability, Pakistan has also offered its services under IAEA safeguards to the interested states and to participate in any non-discriminatory nuclear fuel cycle assurance mechanism.

He said Pakistan is amongst the pioneering members of IAEA. It strongly supports the nuclear watchdog’s fundamental statuary responsibility in promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear technology on a non-discriminatory and equitable basis. Pakistan is party to Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and its 2005 Amendments; he said adding that Pakistan is also a party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety and IAEA’s Early Notification and Assistance Conventions.

Pakistan supports the international fissile material control efforts that are non-discriminatory and that take into consideration the issues of existing stocks and global and regional asymmetries. Instead of supporting a half-measure such as a cut-off treaty, Pakistan subscribes to negotiating a Fissile Material Treaty at the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament that would truly be a disarmament measure. Besides an FMT, Pakistan has expressed its willingness to negotiate international and legally binding instruments that are pending on CD’s agenda, which are: nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances; and prevention of arms race in outer space. Nuclear disarmament is the raison d’être of creation of CD and a universal goal at the UN.

Citing details and background about Pakistan’s not joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty he said it happened due to regional security dynamics but Pakistan throughout remained committed to mutually reinforcing objectives of non-proliferation, disarmament and non-discriminatory access to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Pakistan initiated legislative work to strengthen domestic export control measures even prior to the adoption of United Nation Security Council Resolution 1540. The country has so far submitted four comprehensive reports to UNSCR 1540 Committee, which shows its commitment to non-proliferation. A Pakistani expert works in the elite Group of Experts at the Committee, which is an acknowledgement of Pakistan’s non-proliferation credentials.

As a responsible nuclear power, Pakistan fully implemented the UN Security Councils resolutions on North Korea and Iran. Pakistan had acted proactively once an international nuclear black market was unearthed, in which Dr A Q Khan participated as a non-State actor with more than thirty international players to proliferate technological know-how to four states that ostensibly included India as their fourth customer. Pakistan took a series of effective measures that included developing technical solutions, a personnel reliability programme and intelligence capabilities to preclude any possibility of recurrence of in which a person could operate outside State’s authority. For Pakistan, the issue is a closed chapter whereas other members of the international black market have either disappeared or remain at large. Pakistan has thereon made significant contributions for shared international objectives of non-proliferation.

Other experts who look at non-proliferation matters expressed the hope that despite being a non-NPT nuclear weapons state, Pakistan is one of the strongest proponents of non-proliferation ideals. The country supports any informal arrangement and initiative that aims to counter the threat of WMD proliferation and nuclear terrorism. It is amazing to note that Pakistan participates in numerous informal and voluntary initiatives and it would not be unusual to admit it in NSG. The country subscribes to the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, participates in the IAEA’s Incident and Trafficking Database and made exceptional contributions in recently concluded initiative called NSS. As a partner in Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), Pakistan has been a key state in workings of GICNT’s `implementation and assessment group’ and prepared guidelines on nuclear detection architecture, nuclear forensics and planning and organization.

Over the years, NSG has contributed significantly to strengthening of the global non-proliferation regime by introducing stringent export controls for regulating nuclear trade and the Group has emerged as an important techno-political component of global non-proliferation regime. During its over thirty years existence the NSG did not have full civil nuclear cooperation with Non-NPT states ever but interestingly and surprisingly, the Group offered an exceptional trade waiver in 2008 to only one Non-NPT State for political reasons. This has damaged the global non-proliferation regime, undermined the credibility of NSG and regional security dynamics in South Asia. If this dangerous trend is repeated, the region would be greatly affected and the non-proliferation regime will lose its credibility.

Since 2008, despite being a non-member and a non-NPT state, India has finalised more than a dozen nuclear cooperation agreements with NSG’s members. The country also tried to extract the favour of transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technologies but NSG demurred on American behest because this would have given a direct boost to Indian nuclear weapons programme. In almost a decade of nuclear deals with several states, the load on Indian indigenous nuclear fuel has significantly reduced, which is now being used to develop nuclear weapons for air, land and sea-based triad that India is pursuing at a large scale and fastest pace amongst the nuclear-armed countries. Pakistan wishes to have friendly, cooperative and good relations with its neighbouring states and believes in peaceful co-existence. However, India’s first nuclear test in 1947 injected nuclear dimension in strategic relations in South Asia. Pakistan was compelled to develop nuclear capability purely for self-defence.

Pakistan’s bilateral proposal of a strategic restraint regime has been repeatedly spurned by India since 1999 and American support has further emboldened the country’s insensitivity to peaceful resolution of disputes. The Pakistani proposal is about nuclear and missile restraints, conventional balance and conflict resolution. Pakistanis, from different walks of life, consider it their country’s right to gain access to all technology control arrangements that could enhance country ability to progress and deem it a matter of their national security and economic wellbeing.

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