Zafar Nawaz Jaspal |
India and Pakistan have been vying for Nuclear Supplier Group membership from June 2016. Both are skilled to export nuclear technology and material under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards for civilian use. However, they are not granted membership of the Group because they never joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Besides, they are against the Fissile Material Cut off Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament at Geneva. Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) is a cartel of 48 nations. It was created as a voluntary cartel in 1975 on the behest of the United States.
The cartel was established in response to India’s 18 May 1974, [peaceful] nuclear explosion (PNE), codenamed Smiling Buddha. Currently, the 48 “Participating Governments” (PGs) in the NSG are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and United States.
They possess the capability to produce several items and material on the NSG Control Lists and thereby are qualified to trade them with the recipient states.
The 2019 session of the NSG Plenary held on 20-21 June 2019, in Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has taken over the 48-member NSG chairmanship from Latvia. The members discussed the technical, legal and political issues concerning the entry of NPT-non parties in the cartel. They did not approve the state-specific criteria.
Currently, the factors taken into account for membership are: The ability to supply items (including items in transit) covered by the annexes to Parts 1 and 2 of the NSG Guidelines; adherence to the guidelines and action in accordance with them; enforcement of a legally based domestic export control system which gives effect to the commitment to act in accordance with the Guidelines; full compliance with the obligations of one or more of the following: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaties of Pelindaba, Rarotonga, Tlatelolco, Bangkok, or an equivalent international nuclear non-proliferation agreement; support of international efforts towards non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of their delivery vehicles. Accordingly, neither India nor Pakistan qualify for the membership of NSG.
India and Pakistan exploded and possessed nuclear weapons. India detonated a so-called “peaceful nuclear explosion” on 18 May 1974, and later five explosions in May 1998, using “plutonium derived from Canadian supplied uranium irradiated in a US-supplied “CIRUS” research reactor.” It violated its commitment with nuclear supplier states (Canada and US). Pakistan detonated six devices using enriched uranium derived from its unsafeguarded indigenously built uranium enrichment facility.
It never violated its commitments with both nuclear supplier state(s) and IAEA. Ironically, the ‘violator’ of the agreements has been receiving a preferential treatment by the NSG members from September 2008; whereas the state that abides by agreements has been denied access to nuclear material for civilian use by the Group. Similar subjective approach was adopted by the United States and its like-minded states on India and Pakistan applications to join NSG as full members. Pakistan’s principled stance thwarted India’s bid for the NSG membership in June 2016.
India used the IAEA safeguarded CIRUS reactor’s spent fuel for making fissile material for its nuclear devices. Thus, Pakistan’s credentials to be a full-member of NSG are better in comparison with that of India.
Instead of asking for ‘favour’ or ‘special treatment’ for Pakistan, its diplomats demanded non-discriminatory criteria based on an objective approach for non-NPT states for entry into NSG. They accentuate that an equitable ‘criteria-based’ or ‘norm-based’ approach ought to be adopted for the membership of non-NPT nuclear weapon states. A few members (Belarus, Kazakhstan, China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria) of the cartel applauded Pakistan’s principled stance.
They agreed to support a merit-based and non-discriminatory approach on the full-membership applications of India and Pakistan. They rejected the country-specific exemption from NSG rules to grant membership to India. These states are convinced that country-specific exemption would further undermine the credibility of NSG and weaken the non-proliferation regime.
Scientifically speaking, India and Pakistan are serious candidates for the NSG membership because their civilian nuclear programs are technically advanced. They possess the capability to produce several items and material on the NSG Control Lists and thereby are qualified to trade them with the recipient states.
More precisely, both have the expertise; human resources; infrastructure and the ability to supply NSG controlled items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for civilian uses. Although India and Pakistan have identical scientific expertise or qualifications, yet the later is a better candidate for the NSG membership.
It is because Pakistan never violated the IAEA safeguards and did not use IAEA safeguarded nuclear reactor’s spent fuel for making fissile material for weapons. India used the IAEA safeguarded CIRUS reactor’s spent fuel for making fissile material for its nuclear devices. Thus, Pakistan’s credentials to be a full-member of NSG are better in comparison with that of India.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: email@example.com. This article was first published in Pakistan Observer and it has been republished with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.