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December 28, 2011

India rejects Pak proposals on nuclear restraint

 
December 28, 2011

ISLAMABAD: India on Tuesday rejected outright Pakistan’s proposals on a Strategic Nuclear Restraint Regime (SNRR), as it has done in the past because it feels that this is not in New Delhi’s interest and instead it wanted Pakistan to focus more on the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 1999.
The SNRR goes a long way in addressing conventional, nuclear and conflict resolutions. “Pakistan did not elaborate the fine print of the SNRR during the talks, and we will do so once the Indians are ready to talk on nuclear restraint. These two days set the tone for the next meeting and was actually an ice breaker. Nobody was expecting a huge breakthrough as these talks were held after four years, a senior official told The News at the conclusion of the sixth round of expert level talks on Nuclear Confidence Building Measures.
The spokesman at the Foreign Office, meanwhile, said all was not lost and both sides reviewed the implementation and strengthening of existing CBMs in the framework of Lahore MoU, and agreed to explore possibilities for mutually acceptable additional CBMs. “The two sides agreed to recommend that their foreign secretaries extend the validity of ‘Agreement on Reducing the Risk from Accidents Relating to Nuclear Weapons’ for another five years, and they will now report the progress in talks to their respective foreign secretaries.”
The Agreement on Reducing the Risk from Accidents Relating to Nuclear Weapons was signed by both countries in February 2007 in the aftermath of the disastrous Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union. This agreement binds both countries to notify each other immediately in case of a major nuclear accident to reduce risk to life and property.
The three interlinked proposals of the SNRR pertain to Missile Restraint, Peaceful Resolution of Conflict and Conventional Balance and India’s reaction indicated that it is time for Pakistan to come up with fresh

proposals as this offer turns the whole exercise into a farcical process. New Delhi sees itself as a global player and does not want to see themselves linked with Pakistan on proposals like non-deployment of ABM systemand a proposal of a bilateral Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) between the two countries. It has also rejected a global CTBT.
Instead, India brought to the table continuation of working on the existing nuclear agreements and at one point surprised the hosts when they suggested an exchange of military bands. “We tried to keep straight faces when they put this on the table clearly showing how non-serious they were on issues of such grave importance,” says one official.
The two-day talks are important because both countries revived the stalled dialogue process and take place after a bilateral meeting between Prime Ministers Gilani and Singh at the Saarc summit last month.
The spokesman added that on the conventional side Pakistan proposed deployment of 120 millimetre weaponry at least 30 kilometres away from the Line of Control, an agreement to prevent incidents involving vessels on the high seas and immediate repatriation of people inadvertently crossing the LoC.
“Pakistan and India need to realise that beyond a point antagonists cannot be locked in a zero sum game environment. Their survival is linked together now. So nuclear deterrence requires the prevalence of conflict and common interests between the two sides. This can push in either of two directions: first, compel the stronger side to take advantage by taking calculated risks knowing the nuclear-related concerns that prevail. This course is dangerous and potentially fatal. Second, move both actors towards cooperation - without the smaller state being overwhelmed by the larger one - and away from risk-ridden policies like limited war and first strike. Finally, it has to be remembered that within the context of South Asia, it is not technology denial that will address the issue of nuclear stability, but political will,” says Dr Shirin Mazari, an expert who has been following the talks.