An in-house session on ‘Media Outreach and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)’ was organized by the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) on Tuesday, 20st June, 2017. It was attended by a number of policy researchers and media personnel who discussed the issues and challenges regarding Pakistan’s pending membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the importance of media outreach on this issue. Also attending was Brig. Ishaq Ahmed Khattak (Retd.), Director Intelligence and International Security Studies at South Asian Strategic Stability Institute University.
Brig. Ishaq Ahmed Khattak (Retd.) discussed the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the strategic partnership between the United States and India. He highlighted that this strategic partnership between the US and India goes back to 1999, when they signed the Next Steps for Strategic Partnership initiative. This initiative ultimately led to US-India cooperation in the fields of civil nuclear activities, civil space programs and high-tech trade. In addition, the two countries agreed to expand their dialogue on missile defence systems.
Brig. Ishaq Ahmed (Retd.) was joined by research fellows at SASSI, who explained that Pakistan is currently facing a power crisis and further development of nuclear energy can help bring the country out of this situation. Furthermore, as the world turns away from fossil fuels as a source of energy, Pakistan also needs to switch to environmentally cleaner sources of energy.
It was also highlighted that a non-discriminatory, criteria-based approach by NSG at this point in time will be of far-reaching significance not only for global non-proliferation efforts but also for the stability of the South Asian region. The NSG currently stands at a fork in the road whereby it has to decide whether these non-NPT nuclear states will be granted membership and on what basis.
The NSG is currently holding its Annual Plenary Meeting in Bern, Switzerland, from the 21st to the 24th of June. The case of Pakistan and India’s membership will be discussed on the 23-24th June. An Extra-ordinary plenary of NSG was held on 9 June at Vienna.
Dr. Maria Sultan, Chairperson & Director General of SASSI, spoke about the NSG and its implications on High-Tech Trade. She emphasized that the Indian Ocean is a hotspot for international trade. She described the whole case of Pakistan’s application for membership of NSG. She said that India does not fulfil the conditions which are mandatory for NSG’s membership which includes the separation of Military and Civilian fuel cycle, Placement of all civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, Indian fast breeder reactor program, Independent regulatory authority, Export control regulations, Illicit procumbent, Illicit trafficking and procumbent Diversion of civil nuclear assistance for weapon use.
Dr. Maria also discussed India’s dismal nuclear safety record, highlighting the many nuclear incidents and few accidents over the years i.e. Mayapuri Radiation Accident in West Delhi in 2010 was of Level 4 on International Nuclear and Radiation Event Scale (INES), eight people were hospitalized as a result of radiation exposure, and later one died. While Pakistan has good record of Pakistan’s Non-Proliferation Credentials, Current Nuclear Energy Production, Nuclear Power Reactors Under Construction and Planned Safety And Security of Nuclear Power Plants.
She said that no matter how much India wants access into a different league, the fact remains that the cases of India and Pakistan remain hyphenated. If India resolves outstanding disputes and stands with Pakistan as an equal regional partner only then can it seek to address its ‘prestige complex.’ While talking about Pakistan’s engagement with NSG, she said that Pakistan’s engagement with NSG predates 2003 and since 2011 concerted efforts are aimed at NSG membership, and outreach meetings with NSG were arranged in 2011 (Vienna), 2013 (Ankara), 2015 (Vienna).
Dr. Maria concluded that the 48 participating governments of the NSG should adopt a non-discriminatory approach on the question of NSG membership for non-NPT states rather than the creation of another country-specific exemption. Pakistan wants simultaneous entry into the Group with other non-NPT States that aspire to participate in the group. This would require a fair and simultaneous consideration of the two membership applications submitted by the non-NPT states. Such a fair and unbiased approach would go a long way in making NSG a more effective platform to prevent nuclear proliferation. She said that it would also contribute to strategic stability in the Subcontinent and wider region and advance the non-proliferation efforts. It would show to the people of Pakistan that some particular states are not monopolizing high-end technologies under the garb on non-proliferation. Also, that the world stands with people of Pakistan in their sustainable development rather than imposing a technological and political apartheid.