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May 21, 2016

Pakistan submits formal application for NSG membership

Top Story

May 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Encouraged by support from the United States that Pakistan has the credentials to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the government submitted its formal application for the membership of the NSG on Thursday.

Spokesman at the Foreign Office announced that Pakistan’s Ambassador in Vienna has written to the chairman of the NSG and, “seeking participation in the export control strong support for international efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.”

Pakistan believes that its NSG membership will further NSG non-proliferation objectives by the inclusion of a state with nuclear supply capabilities and its adherence to NSG guidelines and best practices on supply of controlled items, goods, materials, technologies and services.

Pakistan’s move comes at a time when there is confusion whether non-NPT states like Pakistan and India are qualified to join this prestigious club.

“Pakistan has stressed the need for NSG to adopt a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach for its membership of the countries, which have never been party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” explained the spokesman.

On Thursday, there was a battle royal between India and China when reports reached New Delhi that Beijing had stalled a move by India to seek entry into the NSG because it was not party to the NPT.

“France is a non-NPT state and part of this elite group (NSG). Even the NPT allows civil nuclear cooperation with non-NPT countries. If there is a connection, it is between the NSG and IAEA safeguards and with export controls," Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

It remains to be seen if the criteria for keeping India out of the NSG by China is also applicable to Pakistan which is also a non-NPT state. 

Pakistan, meanwhile, has informed the chairman NSG in its letter that it has the expertise, manpower, infrastructure, as well as the ability to supply NSG controlled items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses.

“Pakistan attaches high priority to nuclear safety and security. It has taken legal, regulatory and administrative measures to bring nuclear safety and security at par with international standards,” the letter added.

Pakistan’s export control regime is underpinned by strong legislation, regulatory and enforcement mechanisms. The national export control lists are harmonised with the control lists of NSG, MTCR and Australia Group.

Pakistan has also officially approached the director general IAEA, “of its adherence to the objectives of NSG and its decision to act in accordance with NSG guidelines with regard to transfer of nuclear material, equipment and related technology, including related dual-use equipment, materials, software and related technology”.

The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports. That Pakistan felt it was ready to formally ask the NSG for admission was visible by its statements from the Foreign Office emphasising its credentials.

A joint statement at the conclusion of the eighth round of the Pakistan-US Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation (SSS&NP) Working Group in Islamabad this week stated, “The US delegation recognised Pakistan's significant efforts to harmonise its strategic trade controls with those of the NSG and other multilateral export control regimes. Both sides agreed on the value of Pakistan's continued engagement, outreach and integration into the international non-proliferation regime.”

The joint statement also added, “Pakistan delegation expressed its confidence regarding Pakistan's credentials to become full member of the export control regimes, particularly the NSG and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Both sides committed to continue cooperation related to export control capacity-building under the US Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) programme.”

The NSG guidelines, according to its website, also contain the so-called “Non-Proliferation Principle,” adopted in 1994, whereby a supplier, notwithstanding other provisions in the NSG Guidelines, authorises a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The non-proliferation principle seeks to cover the rare but important cases where adherence to the NPT or to a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty may not by itself be a guarantee that a state will consistently share the objectives of the treaty or that it will remain in compliance with its treaty obligations.

The NSG guidelines are consistent with, and complement, the various international, legally binding instruments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation. These include Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Free-Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok), and the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Semipalatinsk).

The NSG guidelines are implemented by each participating government in accordance with its national laws and practices. Decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements.