Pakistan has offered to join four nuclear export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, if the international community recognises it as a nuclear weapons state, but remains unwilling to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
At a meeting in Islamabad on Thursday, the country’s top political and military leadership said Pakistan wished to be part of global non-proliferation efforts but only if it was accepted as a nuclear weapons state.
“The National Command Authority reiterated Pakistan’s desire to constructively contribute to the realisation of a world free of nuclear weapons and to the goals of non-proliferation on the basis of equality and partnership with the international community,” said a statement issued after the meeting.
Chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the meeting was attended by all services chiefs and the head of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), an institution that manages the nuclear infrastructure and deals with its safety.
The vaguely-drafted statement by the prime minister’s office said Pakistan was “keen to join four export control arrangements” without giving any specific details.
Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua later told The Express Tribune that Pakistan was willing to join four ‘technology cartels’ that control the international trade of nuclear and missile technologies: the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Australia and the Wassenaar groups.
The MTCR and the NSG deal with the international trade of missile and nuclear technologies while the Australia and the Wassenaar groups manage trade in conventional small weapons and various materials used in the manufacturing of arms respectively.
Janjua said Pakistan’s ‘principled’ position on Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was the same. About NPT, she added that Islamabad considered it as a ‘discriminatory’ arrangement and will not sign the CTBT unless the United States and India do the same.
As part of the energy security strategy, the NCA reviewed and approved the Nuclear Power Programme 2050, a plan to use nuclear energy to meet the existing electricity shortfalls and to respond to the future requirements of a growing population and economy.
The NCA also approved the Space Programme 2040, the statement added, though it did not specify any further details about the programme.
The meeting appeared to be playing down what it referred to as ‘hyped’ international fears about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. However, the prime minister did admit there were ‘concerns’ after a secret American raid inside the country to kill Osama bin Laden and a subsequent militant attack on a Karachi naval facility.
But Gilani said that ‘campaigns’ of foreign entities casting doubts over the safety of the country’s nuclear arsenal would never stop Pakistan from seeking a minimum deterrence and pursuing a strategic programme.
According to the statement, the NCA expressed satisfaction at the security and safety of Pakistan’s strategic programmes and facilities. It also expressed confidence in the operational readiness of Pakistan’s strategic weapons.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2011.