In­dia can in­crease nu­clear stocks through NSG waiver: Aizaz Ch

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

The Nu­clear Sup­plier Group's (NSG) waiver has al­lowed In­dia to ex­po­nen­tially in­crease its fis­sile ma­te­rial stocks, said For­eign Sec­re­tary Aizaz Chaudhry on Fri­day. "Strate­gic sta­bil­ity in South Asia has been neg­a­tively im­pacted by Indo-US nu­clear deal and the dis­crim­i­na­tory waiver granted to In­dia by the NSG," re­marked the for­eign sec­re­tary while speak­ing at the In­sti­tute of Strate­gic Stud­ies.

The for­eign sec­re­tary fur­ther stated that "Pak­istan is a peace lov­ing coun­try which was com­pelled to ac­quire nu­clear de­ter­rence in the face of grave threat to the coun­try's na­tional se­cu­rity." All of Pak­istan's civil­ian nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties are placed un­der In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA) safe­guards, and the coun­try fully ad­heres to the stan­dards set by the in­ter­na­tional agency, high­lighted Aizaz.

Shift­ing the fo­cus on to Pak­istan's civil­ian nu­clear needs, the bu­reau­crat ex­plained that Pak­istan is fac­ing an en­ergy short­age and Pak­istan should be grant- ed NSG mem­ber­ship in ac­cor­dance with a non-dis­crim­i­na­tory uni­form and cri­te­ria based ap­proach.

Pak­istan sees a nu­clear lead as vi­tal in­sur­ance against pos­si­ble ag­gres­sion by its larger neigh­bour, and it ap­pears to be gain­ing the up­per hand over In­dia in the nu­clear con­test. Ac­cord­ing to ear­lier me­dia re­ports, US has been weigh­ing op­tions to sign a civil nu­clear deal with Pak­istan. A re­port in The Wash­ing­ton Post had claimed that the US is ex­plor­ing an op­tion that could pave the way for a civil nu­clear deal with Pak­istan like the one con­cluded with In­dia in 2005.

In­dia's long road to nu­clear le­git­i­macy be­gan with a bi­lat­eral deal with the United States in 2005 that, three years later, yielded an ex­emp­tion al­low­ing it to trade in sen­si­tive nu­clear tech­nol­ogy with NSG na­tions. New Delhi ex­pressed its in­ter­est in 2010 in for­mally join­ing the nu­clear club. But In­dia's lob­by­ing has met with scep­ti­cism from Euro­pean coun­tries like Aus­tria and Switzer­land, who have ques­tioned its re­fusal to sign the NPT and give up nu­clear weapons.

In­dian ne­go­tia­tors now de­tect a change of tone, and are fo­cus­ing on win­ning over Euro­pean scep­tics. That, in turn, could bring round China, they cal­cu­late. "We are op­ti­mistic; there is a de­sire within the NSG to bring this process to a con­clu­sion sooner rather than later," one In­dian diplo­mat told Reuters. "Peo­ple are com­fort­able with In­dia."

De­spite two sum­mit meet­ings be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, Bei­jing has yet to sig­nal its assent and may not agree, an­a­lysts cau­tion. De­spite those con­cerns, In­dia is up­beat: "France joined the NSG be­fore rat­i­fy­ing the Non­Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty," said the In­dian diplo­mat. "It's not about arms con­trols. It's about ex­port con­trols." In­dia and Pak­istan have fought three wars since in­de­pen­dence and par­ti­tion in 1947, two over Kash­mir. Their dis­puted fron­tier is one of the world's most heav­ily mil­i­tarised re­gions. Bor­der clashes and in­cur­sions pose a con­stant risk of es­ca­la­tion.

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