Pak-US talks on nuclear security held ahead of UNGA session; Aizaz forcefully puts forth Pak views on non-proliferation, CTBT, NSG and allied matters
NEW YORK: While expressing its concern over the growing conventional imbalance in the area, Pakistan has reaffirmed its consistent stance that it will not be the first in its region to resume nuclear testing and expressed its support for the objectives of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which it has manifested through the support for CTBT-related resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The apprehension and assurance have been expressed by Pakistan in the fresh round of talks on nuclear security held here on Sunday with the United States just a day ahead of the commencement of 71st Summit session of the UNGA at the UN headquarters.
In the course of talks, Pakistan has reiterated its long-standing proposal for Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) in South Asia and its willingness to pursue measures in the region aimed at building confidence and avoiding arms race.
Pakistan’s delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary while the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller headed her country’s delegation as the two co-chaired the ninth round of the Pakistan-US Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation (SSS&NP) Working Group.
The meeting continued for about two hours and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary later briefed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had arrived here earlier in the afternoon, about the outcome of the meeting.
Highly-placed diplomatic sources told The News that Pakistan has stressed the need for access to peaceful uses of nuclear technology as a socio-economic imperative. Pakistan also indicated its interest in cooperation with the US on peaceful applications of nuclear science in areas such as health, agriculture and water. The US expressed its interest in exploring such nuclear science cooperation with Pakistan. The host country’s delegation recognised Pakistan’s significant efforts to harmonise its strategic trade controls with those of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (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 Pakistan delegation expressed its confidence regarding Pakistan’s credentials to become a full member of the export control regimes, particularly the NSG and 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 statement said. The sources said that the delegations had a productive exchange of views on issues of mutual importance, including strategic export control regimes, nonproliferation, and regional stability and security, while building on the progress of the previous rounds of the SSS&NP meetings.
The delegations reaffirmed the high importance that both countries attach to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery to states as well as non-state actors. In this regard, they, inter alia, noted that both have consistently supported and implemented the UNSC Resolution 1540. Both delegations agreed to remain engaged in discussions on an objective comprehensive review of the said resolution. The two sides noted the high priority that arms control has for the international community. The US outlined its nuclear stockpile reduction, explained its efforts to seek congressional approval to ratify the CTBT and reaffirmed its commitment not to conduct further nuclear test explosions. The US underscored the need to commence negotiations on a treaty dealing with fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons. Pakistan underlined its preference for a broader Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) that addresses the asymmetries in existing stocks and highlighted that its position will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia. Both sides recognised their interest in strategic stability and discussed their respective concerns over nuclear and missile developments in South Asia. Both sides emphasised the importance of meaningful dialogue and progress in this area and expressed the hope for lasting peace in South Asia and the resolution of outstanding disputes through peaceful means. Both sides underscored the importance of preventing the risk of global nuclear terrorism and reaffirmed their participation in the global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism (GICNT). The two sides also discussed issues related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and committed to continue such consultations. The delegations also emphasised their shared desire for a successful BWC review conference in November and agreed to continue working together to that end. The delegations reaffirmed that the Working Group remains an invaluable forum for discussing issues of critical mutual importance and stated that they looked forward to future sessions.
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