In­dia and the NSG waiver

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Malik Muham­mad Ashraf

FOR­EIGN Sec­re­tary Aizaz Chaudhry re­cently ob­served that the US-In­dia nu­clear deal had im­pacted strate­gic sta­bil­ity in South Asia. Quot­ing re­cent re­ports by US-based In­sti­tute For Sci­ence And In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity and Nu­clear Threat Ini­tia­tive, he said that the waiver given by the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG) had al­lowed In­dia to ex­po­nen­tially in­crease its fis­sile ma­te­rial stocks.

It is per­ti­nent to men­tion that even in their re­ports dur­ing 2014 ISSI, the Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute (SIPRI) and IHS Jane's In­tel­li­gence Re­view, re­ported In­dian plans for a new ura­nium en­rich­ment fa­cil­ity aimed at ex­pan­sion of its naval ca­pac- ity and also in­di­cated In­dian ef­forts to pur­sue a thermo-nu­clear op­tion to en­hance its nu­clear weapons ca­pa­bil­ity. Pak­istan has per­sis­tently been voic­ing its con­cern over the dis­crim­i­na­tory treat­ment meted out to it in this re­gard and the likely reper­cus­sions for the re­gion as well as ten­sions be­tween the two coun­tries.

Not only Pak­istan but some mem­bers of the NSG were also op­posed to the grant of a waiver to In­dia by the NSG that al­lowed it to trade in the nu­clear ma­te­ri­als. They ex­pressed the view that the move would un­der­mine the cred­i­bil­ity of the NSG, pre­fer­ring the ar­gu­ment that In­dia - be­ing a non-sig­na­tory to the NPT - could not be granted waiver or mem­ber­ship of the NSG. How­ever, the US ma­noeu­vred a coun­try-spe­cific waiver for In­dia which fa­cil­i­tated the lat­ter to sign civil­ian nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with over a dozen coun­tries. Even th­ese agree­ments were in vi­o­la­tion of the spirit of an amend­ment that re­stricted sup­ply of nu­clear fuel to In­dia and re­quired that it should be pro­por­tion­ate to the le­git­i­mate re­quire­ments of In­dian nu­clear power plants.

It may be re­called that the NSG was formed in the wake of the 1974 nu­clear ex­plo­sion by In­dia, which it was able to con­duct due to its clan­des­tine di­ver­sion of ma­te­ri­als and equip­ment ob­tained from Canada and US for peace­ful pur­poses to its weapons pro­gramme.

The NSG waiver to In­dia owes to the ea­ger­ness of the US and its Western al­lies to strengthen ties with In­dia as part of pro­tect­ing their strate­gic in­ter­est in the re­gions as well as grab­bing de­fence and nu­clear en­ergy re­lated con­tracts - a move clearly sub­servient to ex­pe­di­ency rather than ra­tio­nale ad­her­ence to the cause of global nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion. Some cir­cles are also of the con­sid­ered view that the US de­lib­er­ately left loop­holes in the civil nu­clear agree­ment with In­dia as it did not re­quire In­dia to limit its nu­clear weapons or for­sake nu­clear test­ing. This cer­tainly has in­creased the like­li­hood of In­dia di­vert­ing its in­dige­nous fis­sile ma­te­rial stocks to its weapons pro­gramme af­ter ob­tain­ing ad­e­quate sup­plies from sev­eral coun­tries on the ba­sis of the NSG waiver.

There is a very strong view on the global level that the ob­jec­tive of the NPT and NSG would be bet­ter served by adopt­ing a cri­te­ria-based ap­proach to the ex­pan­sion of the NSG - since any dis­crim­i­na­tory strat­egy would not only un­der­mine those ob­jec­tives but also lead to in­nu­mer­able op­er­a­tional and func­tional draw­backs that would be­come dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile. Cri­te­ria-based ex­pan­sion of the group en­sur­ing en­try of both In­dia and Pak­istan in the NSG would vastly en­hance the ac­cep­tance of th­ese two coun­tries as nu­clear weapons state giv­ing them a say in how coun­tries should con­duct trade in nu­clear-re­lated ex­ports.

Giv­ing mem­ber­ship to both In­dia and Pak­istan would mean in­te­gra­tion of two po­ten­tial ex­porters un­der the NSG regime, lead­ing to strength­en­ing of the cause of nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion and the ob­jec­tives pur­sued by NSG. Ad­mit­tance of Pak­istan to NSG would also help erase the im­pres­sion of the NSG be­ing an il­le­git­i­mate car­tel of in­dus­tri­alised coun­tries, as per­ceived by many non-nu­clear states.

Pak­istan has been plead­ing its case for mem­ber­ship of the NSG at dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional fo­rums. Though Pak­istan is not a sig­na­tory to the NPT, it ful­fils the cri­te­ria laid down by the NSG for ad­mit­ting a coun­try as its mem­ber. The cri­te­ria stip­u­late that the as­pir­ing coun­try should have the abil­ity to sup­ply nu­clear items cov­ered in the NSG guide­lines; a proven record of ad­her­ence to those guide­lines; a le­gal do­mes­tic ex­port con­trol sys­tem; com­pli­ance with obli­ga­tions un­der the NPT and other treaties; sup­port for in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to­wards non-pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass de­struc­tion and their de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles.

As stated by Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif at the Nu­clear Sum­mit in Hague in 2014, Pak­istan has been run­ning a safe and se­cure civil nu­clear pro­gramme for the last 40 years. It has the ex­per­tise, man­power and in­fra­struc­ture to pro­duce civil nu­clear en­ergy; it has pur­sued a pol­icy of re­straint as well as cred­i­ble min­i­mum de­ter­rence and its nu­clear se­cu­rity is sup­ported by five pil­lars - a strong com­mand and con­trol sys­tem, an in­te­grated in­tel­li­gence sys­tem, rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tory regime and ac­tive in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion.

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