Nu­clear dou­ble stan­dards

The Pak Banker - - EDITORIAL - Malik Muham­mad Ashraf

FRANCE and In­dia signed a pact on Jan­uary 25 un­der which the for­mer would sell 36 French-built Rafael fighter planes to the lat­ter and also build six nu­clear re­ac­tors in In­dia. This shows the dou­ble stan­dards of the US and its al­lies on the is­sue of nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion, and the dis­crim­i­na­tory treat­ment meted out to Pak­istan in this re­gard.

Pro­lif­er­a­tion of nu­clear weapons is rightly a cause of con­cern. This is prob­a­bly the ra­tio­nale and mo­ti­va­tion be­hind ef­forts on the in­ter­na­tional level to pre­vent more and more na­tions join­ing the nu­clear club and com­ing into force of Nu­clear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty (NPT). Un­for­tu­nately, the dream of a nu­cle­ar­free world re­mains as elu­sive as ever due to the selec­tive ap­pli­ca­tion of the pro­vi­sions of the treaty by the US and its Western al­lies like the UK and France, de­signed to serve their strate­gic and com­mer­cial in­ter­ests at the global level.

The US-In­dia civil-nu­clear agree­ment is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of vi­o­la­tion of the NPT by the US, which is try­ing to prop up In­dia as a re­gional su­per­power to act as a counter-weight to the bur­geon­ing Chi­nese in­flu­ence in the re­gion and be­yond. To make this agree­ment op­er­a­tional, the US made amend­ments in its Atomic En­ergy Act of 1954, fa­cil­i­tated IAEA agree­ment with In­dia in which the lat­ter agreed to sep­a­rate its civil and mil­i­tary nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties and place all its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties un­der IAEA safe­guards, and also ma­noeu­vred grant of an ex­emp- tion from the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG) for In­dia.

This deal in­tro­duced a new as­pect to the in­ter­na­tional non-pro­lif­er­a­tion ef­forts. The grant and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the waiver from the NSG to In­dia, which al­lowed it ac­cess to civil­ian nu­clear tech­nol­ogy and fuel from other coun­tries, made In­dia the only coun­try out­side the um­brella of the NPT to carry out nu­clear com­merce with the rest of the world.

As soon as the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed the bill to ap­prove the deal on Septem­ber 28, 2008, France also inked a sim­i­lar deal with In­dia. The UK too jumped on the band­wagon and agreed to have a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment with In­dia. As a fol­low-up to the agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries, the UK and In­dia have al­ready an­nounced deals worth $13.7 bil­lion in­clud­ing a civil- nu­clear pact dur­ing the In­dian prime min­is­ter's visit to UK end 2015. Aus­tralia, which pos­sesses 40 per­cent of the known re­serves of ura­nium in the world, has also for­malised an agree­ment with In­dia for sell­ing ura­nium.

Th­ese coun­tries are not pre­pared to ex­tend the same treat­ment to Pak­istan, and are in­stead putting pres­sure on us to cur­tail and even cap our nu­clear pro­gramme - which we had ini­ti­ated in re­sponse to the nu­clear threat from In­dia. The US par­tic­u­larly has been pres­suris­ing Pak­istan to sign the NPT and with­draw its op­po­si­tion to the FMCT. Pak­istan's re­fusal to suc­cumb to th­ese un­rea­son­able de­mands in the face of the dis­crim­i­na­tory ap­proach of the West to the nu­clear is­sue is ab­so­lutely right and jus­ti­fied. Pak­istan be­lieves in non-pro­lif­er­a­tion of nu­clear arse­nal and has been sup­port­ing the ob­jec­tives of the NPT even though it has not signed the treaty for jus­ti­fi­able rea­sons.

In­dia has been fever­ishly en­gaged in boost­ing its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity as well as build­ing up con­ven­tional weapons with the sup­port and en­cour­age­ment of the US and its al­lies. The bel­liger­ent pos­ture adopted by the Modi regime and the In­dian paradigm of ' cold start' de­serve a match­ing re­sponse by Pak­istan. No coun­try can com­pro­mise its se­cu­rity. Th­ese provoca­tive and threat­en­ing ac­tions by In­dia, there­fore, could not have gone un­no­ticed by Pak­istan. Our mis­sile pro­gramme is part of a de­fen­sive mech­a­nism de­signed to dis­cour­age In­dia from com­mit­ting any in­dis­cre­tion. It is yet an­other de­ter­rent to fore­stall the pos­si­bil­ity of even a lim­ited war be­tween the two coun­tries.

The US and Euro­pean na­tions look at Pak­istan's nu­clear pro­gramme from the per­spec­tive of nu­clear ter­ror­ism at the global level, rather than it be­ing In­di­aspe­cific, ne­ces­si­tated by le­git­i­mate se­cu­rity con­cerns. Be­fore Nawaz Sharif em­barked on a visit to the US in Oc­to­ber 2015, it was be­ing spec­u­lated that Pres­i­dent Obama would ask Sharif to halt the mis­sile pro­gramme and a deal on civil­ian nu­clear tech­nol­ogy might be sealed if Pak­istan agreed to cap its nu­clear pro­gramme. Pak­istan, how­ever, cat­e­gor­i­cally re­jected the idea and the prime min­is­ter stated in un­equiv­o­cal terms that Pak­istan would never com­pro­mise on its nu­clear pro­gramme. That prob­a­bly stopped Pres­i­dent Obama from rais­ing the is­sue dur­ing the di­a­logue, though they did dis­cuss nu­clear se­cu­rity in the global con­text.

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