Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal |
The full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is significant for Pakistan. The inclusion in the Group not only enhances its prestige or status in the global politics but also legitimises its import and export of nuclear-related material, equipment, and technology for the peaceful application. The NSG membership facilitates Islamabad to do nuclear trade with both nuclear supplier states as well as nuclear recipient states. In addition, it endorses Pakistan as a responsible nuclear weapon state. Unfortunately, the trends in the global politics are not supportive for Pakistan’s bid for the membership of the nuclear cartel.
Simultaneously, it qualifies Islamabad to import sophisticated nuclear-related material, equipment, and technology for improving the quality of its nuclear power plants, cancer hospitals, and nuclear agriculture research centers
Nuclear Supplier Group is a voluntary and consensus-based organization of 48 states. The participating governments in the Group seek to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear-related exports. They also endeavor for ‘the full, complete and effective implementation of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.
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Since its operational in 1978, the NSG has been obstructing the nuclear-related materials, equipment, and technology to Pakistan. France, for example, quashed nuclear reprocessing plant deal with Pakistan in 1978. The NSG members have been pressurizing China to not assist Pakistan in the construction of nuclear power plants under the International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards. Ironically, the nuclear supplier states have been penalizing Pakistan due to the crime committed by India.
Pakistan would have to commit to full-scope IAEA safeguards as a condition for the transaction. It’s not acceptable because it exposes country’s nuclear weapon program
Competition for Joining NSG
The nuclear renaissance and trends in global politics indicate the probability of change in the current membership of the NSG in the near future. India and Pakistan had formally applied for the membership in May 2016. Since then, both states have been lobbying for the full membership. However, the probability of their membership in the near future seems remote due to the demand of criteria based approach by a few NSG members. The criteria based demand is not acceptable to the supporters of India. India received a special treatment by NSG in 2008.
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Consequently, it has been receiving the nuclear-related material, equipment, and technical assistance from United States, France, Britain, etc. Since then, it has been under the impression that it would always be treated individually or granted special status by the members of the NSG. Therefore, without taking into account the current trends in the global strategic environment India applied for the membership and demanded special treatment again. Nevertheless, India’s bid for NSG membership in May 2016 failed to receive a favorable response from the participating members of the club in the 2016 NSG Seoul Plenary meeting.
India’s bid for NSG membership in May 2016 failed to receive a favorable response from the participating members of the club in the 2016 NSG Seoul Plenary meeting
The NSG members had approved stringent membership criteria during their May 10-11, 2001 Aspen, Colorado, United States Plenary meeting. According to it the requirements are: the candidate ought to have the ability to supply items (including items in transit) covered by the Annexes to Parts 1 and 2 of the NSG Guidelines; its adherence to the Guidelines and action in accordance with them;
The applicant should abide by the enforcement of a legally based domestic export control system which gives effect to the commitment to act in accordance with the Guidelines; the NSG aspirant express adherence to one or more of the NPT, the Treaties of Pelindaba, Rarotonga, Tlatelolco, Bangkok, Semipalatinsk or an equivalent international nuclear non-proliferation agreement, and full compliance with the obligations of such agreement(s); applying state support of international efforts towards non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and of their delivery vehicles.
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The nuclear renaissance and trends in global politics indicate the probability of change in the current membership of the NSG in the near future. India and Pakistan had formally applied for the membership in May 2016
Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of NSG
The twenty-seventh Plenary Meeting of the NSG was held in Bern, Switzerland, on 22 and 23 June 2017. The NSG had discussions on the issue of “Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of non-NPT States in the NSG”. The Group decided to continue its discussion and noted the intention of the Chair to organize an informal meeting in November 2017. The forthcoming informal meeting of NSG members ought to be taken serious by Islamabad. It is important for Pakistan because the participating members in the meeting will set the agenda for the twenty-eighth Plenary meeting of the Group.
According to NSG guidelines, Pakistan would have to commit to full-scope IAEA safeguards as a condition for the transaction. It’s not acceptable because it exposes country’s nuclear weapon program. Therefore, the rational approach is that Pakistan instead of asking for a favor or special treatment only maintains its principled stance on NSG membership. It continues demanding non-discriminatory criteria for non-NPT states for entry into the NSG.
The participating governments in the Group seek to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear-related exports
It accentuates that an equitable criteria-based or norm-based approach ought to be adopted for the membership of non-NPT nuclear weapon states. To conclude, the NSG membership is important because it would facilitate export of nuclear-related materials, equipment, and technology for generating finances for Pakistan nuclear industry. Simultaneously, it qualifies Islamabad to import sophisticated nuclear-related material, equipment, and technology for improving the quality of its nuclear power plants, cancer hospitals, and nuclear agriculture research centers.
Read more: Why is China keeping India from joining the NSG?
Despite the advantages of NSG membership, compromising on country’s defense arrangements is not acceptable. Hence, maintaining minimum credible nuclear deterrence capability is more important for the sovereign defense of Pakistan instead of NSG membership.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.