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‘Pakistan has strong credentials on nuclear safety’


May 29, 2018

ISLAMABAD: To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests, the Strategic Studies Institute, Islamabad (SSII), organised a media workshop titled “Chagai: Twenty Years Later” here on Monday. Representatives from different media outlets attended the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion, SSII DG and Member National Assembly, Dr Shireen Mazari highlighted that Pakistan has strong credentials on nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation, and that it meets the requirements for full integration into the global multilateral export control regimes.

She also reiterated that Pakistan has adopted various measures regarding physical protection of nuclear materials and has also developed strong mechanisms for regulating nuclear safety and radiation protection aspects being overseen by the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA).

Dr Mazari suggested that Pakistan should engage other countries, who object to India’s membership of NSG, through its own diplomatic measures in order to effectively deal with the issue. Pakistan needs proactive and timely diplomacy to counter this issue. “If we hadn’t conducted tests India would have been recognised as formal nuclear state and we would have been forced to give up our testing. It would have been impossible for Pakistan to conduct tests later,” she said.

“Unfortunately, due to our lack of proper policy guidance after 9/11, the US successfully delinked India’s programme from Pakistan’s programme. As a result civil nuclear concessions were given to India under the 2005 US-India Nuclear Deal. The most significant issue following the deal is the unsafeguarded fuel from civil reactors that has become available to India may well be used to make weapons,” she noted.

She continued, “Pakistan has signed IAEA safeguards agreement. India didn’t sign the agreement until it signed an agreement with the US which was in fact a country specific agreement with exit clauses. Pakistan failed to carry out active diplomacy, and it resulted in a free pass to India. India signed agreements that are softer. On the issue of AQ Khan, we made a mistake; he did not break any law because Pakistan was not a member of the NPT.”

“Since 1998, Pakistan has been updating its nuclear weapons systems and its modernisation. Once we tested we became public and, therefore, we had to be responsible nuclear state. The National Command Authority was created. The creation of the NCA also coincided with Pakistans decision to delink its military programme from its civilian programme. The operationalisation of this delinking was reflected in the creation of PNRA in 2001,” she maintained.

The expert noted Pakistan’s civil nuclear progrmmes are under IAEA safeguards. In 2004, parliament passed the export control act. The Foreign Office also has an entire setup dealing with strategic trade controls and related issues. These things were an international requirement and Pakistan successfully completed them.

“Pakistan has kept its missile technology and development limited. The country has only developed medium range. However, India is making ICBMs in its expansive programme. When India formulated the Cold Start and threatened Pakistan, it sought to inflict damage on Pakistan while remaining under the nuclear threshold. It was a limited war doctrine. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence was no longer credible,” she said.

Dr Mazari said, “therefore, Pakistan developed Nasr to fill the vacuum. It is a short-range tactical weapon to avoid strategic war. Our credibility was reinforced. It is not a battlefield weapon. Nasr will be used against advancing Indian forces as a tactical weapon”.

Due to this technology, she noted we have also achieved miniaturisation capability, so we can now develop sea-launched ballistic missile to achieve second strike cap. Once Pakistan acquires second strike capability it will become more secure. We have also tested Sea launched cruise missiles. Pakistans missile are technologically better because we focused on fewer missile. Initially, medium range and now on short range. We are technologically sophisticated. In 2005, we first tested cruise missile.

“Civilian structures, political structures and nuclear capabilities were developed side by side. Once we tested nuclear, we still tried to reach an agreement with India to avoid an arms race. Zero missile regimes were proposed by Pakistan, followed by a nuclear restraint regime, which India did not agree to. Even before 1998, Pakistan proposed that both countries should sign the NPT together. Pakistan would also go along with the world if everyone decides to disarm. India also rejected another proposal for bilaterally halting nuclear weapons development as well as dismissing several other proposals for cbms. Pakistan also declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing,” she said.

On the issue of CTBT, Dr Mazari said it is a dead treaty because the US Congress rejected it. In South Asia, India also rejected it. Pakistan suggested a strategic restraint regime which India rejected. India has a full fledged missile programme, including the ABM System. Pakistan would have to increase the number of weapons to counter the ABM system. It may give rise to further arms race and instability.

“The problem has been that our nuclear diplomacy has been weak. India has been getting the membership of supplier cartels one by one. Pakistan would be at a permanent disadvantage if India gets NSG membership. Our diplomacy should be active on this issue. India can now also justify its case for NSG membership. Our technological achievement are phenominal, especially the sea launched missiles and cruise missiles. Our record on nuclear issue is in line with global norms of non-proliferation. Therefore, India should not be treated differently,” she said.

In her final concluding remarks, Dr Mazari said that Pakistan should highlight both India’s proliferation record and also our own efforts in terms of strengthening our command and control and nuclear safety. Also there should be criteria based selection in NSG for non-NPT states and not country specific. We never did diplomacy and relied only on China. Pak brought FSD after India’s cold start doctrine. If also addresses sub-nuclear threats and not only for nuclear threats. It means being able to address the threats at all the levels.