by: Tahir Nazir
21 July 2018

 To this day, there are nine nuclear weapon states, in possession of approximately 14 935 nuclear weapons, of which nearly 4150 are deployed and about 1800 are on high alert, ready for use at short notice. The Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, China, the Russian Federation, France and the United Kingdom, are upgrading their nuclear arsenal, spending hefty sums on new weaponry systems. The US, for example, is projected to spend $1.7 trillion on maintaining and upgrading its nuclear forces over the next 30 years. Similarly, Russia is spending about $70 billion a year on modernizing its military and strengthening its nuclear muscle.

In South Asia, India has spent about a billion dollars over the past decade to modernize its military and nuclear forces. India under PM Modi, spent $63.9 billion on its military in 2017, an increase of 5.5 per cent compared with 2016 and of 45 per cent since 2008. According to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the world’s largest importer of major arms between 2013 and 2017, accounting for 12% of the global total; its imports have increased by 24% between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

Despite emphatic calls to move towards “nuclear zero”, a world without nuclear weapons remains a perpetually distant, idealist’s dream. North Korea’s nuclear capability continues to pose a real threat to international peace and stability. Likewise, the hostility between India and Pakistan, exacerbated by the introduction of the Cold Start Doctrine, an offensive military strategy to flatten Pakistan’s military might without invoking the nuclear threshold, the acquisition of destabilizing technology, i.e. Ballistic Missile Defence systems, and a massive increase in India’s conventional defence spending is pushing the region towards increasing instability, and could potentially lead South Asia towards a ‘nuclear nightmare’ According to  data provided by India’s Institute for Defence Studies Analysis (IDSA) India will spend over $62 billion on defence in 2018-2019,  in contrast to Pakistan’s meagre $9 billion. . Such developments also have the potential to increase the level of an arms race which will erode the deterrence stability of the South Asian Region.

In this context, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a linchpin for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. It caps the development and modernization of nuclear weapons systems, in an attempt to leave a narrow space and very little motivation for states to build new weapons. By banning all nuclear explosions, the CTBT also puts qualitative constraints on the development of new nuclear weapons. Thus there is direct linkage between ending nuclear testing and progressing toward a world without nuclear weapons.

The Treaty’s relevance and importance was underlined first in 1998 when nuclear tests were carried out initially by India, followed by Pakistan,. More recently the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a test in 2017 and previously in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016. Nearly two decades have elapsed since the Treaty was first opened for signatures, but due to various political and geo-strategic obstacles, its entry-into-force is yet to be achieved, which has prevented the CTBT from entering into full legal effect.

The CTBT remains a crucial element of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Currently, it has 183 State signatories, and has been ratified by 166 States, the vast majority of the world’s nations lending their voices to prevent further nuclear testing. However, for the Treaty to enter- into force, the signature and ratification of the remaining eight Annex 2 States is a necessity.

Pakistan and India are both among these eight Annex 2 states, and both have not found it possible to sign and ratify the CTBT due to regional security constraints. As far as Pakistan’s position is concerned, it has indicated its intent to sign and ratify the CTBT in parallel with India. Even in 1974, when India tested its nuclear weapons under the guise of a ‘peaceful test’, Pakistan proposed the idea of a regional CTBT. Since 1998, Pakistan has put forth proposals on a strategic restraint regime and bilateral dialogue on security and arms control issues to India many times, but unfortunately none of these proposal have been received with any enthusiasm or met with reciprocation from India.

Another of the eight Annex 2 countries – the US – recently published its nuclear posture review, indicating the role of nuclear weapons will increase in its national security policy, possibly opening a window for nuclear testing under extreme circumstances. Without doubt, the Trump administration’s decision to have the option to resume testing a will also have negative consequences for the South Asian region’s nuclear politics, as both countries (India and Pakistan) are continuing to develop new nuclear weapons delivery systems to counter the other.

Despite these dangerous and contrary developments at the global level, I believe that in South Asia, the signing of the CTBT by India and Pakistan has the potential to stabilize and strengthen the deterrence equation between the two arch-rivals in the long run, particularly by dis-incentivizing the development of new nuclear weapons. Hypothetically, even a sharp move by India to ‘sign’ the CTBT could place China and the US in an awkward position, where they would  be left with very little space and excuses to continue to remain outside the Treaty, and perhaps be encouraged to expedite the process for ratifying it.

It is therefore prudent for the international community to push India to sign the CTBT if the country really wants to be integrated into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other high tech multilateral cartels. In 2008, at the time of Indo-US nuclear deal, a similar golden opportunity was lost to integrate the CTBT as one of the nuclear non-proliferation benchmarks when granting an NSG waiver to India. Let us hope that the same mistake will not be repeated in the discussions for Indian NSG membership proposal, and signing of the CTBT may be set as one of the preconditions.

 Author’s bio:

Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS. The views and opinions expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of CPGS. He tweets @tahirdss

By: Tahir Nazir

Jun 13, 2018

 In 2009, then US President Barak Obama announced the plan to hold a Nuclear Security Summit to increase awareness regarding potential terrorist threats posed against nuclear material nuclear facilities, at the highest level. And also, to formulate a joint action plan to deal with the continuously evolving complex security threat i.e. in the shape of nuclear terrorism, using radiological or nuclear material to make dirty bombs and subsequently use them to disperse radioactive material against civilian populations to achieve their political objectives.

In this context, successive nuclear security summits i.e. 2010, 2012, 2014 and the concluding one in 2016 at Washington, laid strong but normative standards for the security of the nuclear and radiological materials.

Pakistan being an established nuclear state along with the 53 states having attended all the nuclear summits has time and again exhibited its nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear safety and nuclear security credentials in front of the international community. In response to these endeavors, international community, especially the former US President Obama acknowledged, and reposed confidence on Pakistan’s robust nuclear command and control system.

As a mature nuclear state, Pakistan has been continuously engaged with different international regimes and treaties which prohibit the nuclear material, knowledge and dual-use technology. Pakistan has signed and ratified the IAEA Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in 2000, also participating in the activities of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) 1540 and submitted a report to the Committee. Pakistan has an observer status at the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a U.S led initiative to counter nuclear proliferation. In addition to this, Pakistan joined the US-sponsored Container Security Initiative (CSI) in March 2006[1] and endorsed Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in June 2007. By joining these International Conventions and Initiatives, Pakistan clearly demonstrated that it is a responsible nuclear state, committed to non-proliferation, global peace and stability.

Pakistan’s decision to ratify the Conventions on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities’ (CPPNM) Amendments 2005, once again demonstrated, the country’s commitment and enforced the importance it attaches to physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear security. Undoubtedly, the ratification of the CPPNM enhanced and reinforced Pakistan’s international nuclear credentials and helped to attain international community’s recognition in order to access civil nuclear technology and meet the growing demand of energy, subsequently stepping closer to meet the Paris agreement objectives and reducing carbon emissions.

To ensure the safety of nuclear power plants and associated facilities, Pakistan has established the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) as a watchdog to oversee all aspects of nuclear civil applications. In addition, Pakistan has an extensive export control regime which is at par with the same standard followed by the “Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Australia Group.”

In its bid to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, Pakistan has offered its services to the international community with regards to nuclear security training. In 2014[2], Pakistan established the Centre of Excellence on Nuclear Security (PCENS). Through joint initiatives with IAEA, Pakistan organized multiple courses and training workshops for the professionals working in the field of nuclear safety and security.

Additionally, Pakistan established the Nuclear Emergency Management System (NEMS)[3] at the national level to handle nuclear and radiological emergencies. And Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Support Centre (NURESC) along with the Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Coordination Center (NRECC) which provides technical guidance to licensees and users of nuclear and radiation facilities, in case of an emergency and coordinate the response.

On the question of creating a parallel institution to oversee nuclear security, Pakistan views the “nuclear security summit process as a catalyst of fostering nuclear security culture” rather then creating a “new, parallel institutions or mechanisms for nuclear security”. Fundamentally, nuclear security is the responsibility of individual states. It is partly true that the existing nuclear security architecture is appropriate and possess the ability to deal with the current as well as potential futuristic challenges. Furthermore, it is absolutely essential to strengthen the role of International Atomic Energy Agency to reinforce the global nuclear order for peace and prosperity.

While looking at Pakistan’s current nuclear security regime, it is understandable that its nuclear security architecture has considerably improved and is now more aligned to the international best practices. Pakistan has a robust command and control system, in the form of Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) and Strategic Plans Division (SPD). These strategic organizations review “all aspects of policy, procurement, operations, and, most importantly nuclear security”.

The recent visit of Yukia Armano, DG International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Pakistan is a testament to the country’s outstanding partnership with the IAEA and its significance as an important nuclear state. While speaking at international conference in Karachi, Mr. Armano stated that “Karachi nuclear power plants heavily protected” and the IAEA greatly values cooperation with Pakistan in peaceful uses of nuclear technology.”[4] He conveyed complete confidence and trust on Pakistan’s nuclear security regime.

While keeping in view the country’s established nuclear regime, Pakistan is fully eligible to become the member of the NGS. On the basis of internationally acknowledged nuclear non-proliferation record, Pakistan on 19 May 2016[5] submitted its formal application for the membership of the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) to the Chairman of NSG.

That said, the NSG was created as a result of India’s so-called ‘peaceful’ nuclear explosion in 1974[6], which demonstrated that nuclear technology acquired for peaceful purposes could be diverted for advancing military program. Ironically, the very state i.e. India, cheated the international non-proliferation safeguards, again received the NSG waiver in 2008 with the support of United States. Hence, it has not just eroded the international nonproliferation principles but also set a dangerous precedent that a Non-NPT state without giving any legally binding commitment, can manipulate the established nuclear nonproliferation normative order.

As stated above, Pakistan, has a robust nuclear safety and security regime but due to global power politics and regional geopolitical alliance structure, it has been bared to get access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It is high time for the NSG members’ to revisit their “Cold War” style approach and create “criteria led approach” for new entrants and judge their credentials accordingly. Furthermore, inclusion of Pakistan into the NSG will only strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and a potential step towards the universalization of NPT.

It would be prudent for NSG members’ states to give a level playing field to Pakistan in competing for the membership of NSG. Notably, any “discriminatory approach” in the context of expansion of NSG, would potentially weaken the NPT regime. And, any sign of weakening of the treaty would have a colossal impact on the health of global non-proliferation regime (NPR). Moreover, discriminatory policies based on “balance of power’ will not bring peace, rather further complicate the regional and global security landscape.


Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). The views expressed by the author do not represent the institute. He tweets @tahirdss

[1] Nawaz Zafar, “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safety and security,” The Nation, February 23, 2013, http://nation.com.pk/23-Feb-2013/pakistan-s-nuclear-weapons-safety-and-security, (Accessed on 25, May 2018).

[2] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan, Pakistan’s National Statement Nuclear Security Summit Washington, 31 March – 1 April 2016, http://www.mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=MzYwNA, (Accessed on 25, May 2018).

[3] ibid

[4] “Karachi nuclear power plants heavily protected: IAEA chief,” Dawn, March 15, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1395361 (Accessed on 26, May 2018).

[5] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan, Pakistan applies for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), http://mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=MzczOA, (Accessed on 28, May 2018).

[6] Hart, David. “Nuclear power in India: a comparative analysis.” (1983).

by: Tahir Nazir
27 March 2018

 After India and Pakistan first tested nuclear devices in 1998, people in both countries hoped that nuclear weapons would decrease the incentive for war and lead to sustainable peace in the region. The 1999 Kargil conflict that took place when Pakistan’s military tried to gain control of the 70-kilometer-long Siachen glacier occupied by India in 1984, and the military standoff a few years later in which troops massed along both sides of the border, however, dashed these hopes, and both nations once more found themselves in the spotlight. Unfortunately, the current situation is not much different from the past, with relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors remaining troubled. As the recently announced US National Security Strategy noted, “the prospect for an Indo-Pakistani military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange remains a key concern requiring constant diplomatic attention.”

Disappointment regarding India-Pakistan relations is partly a result of the misplaced and overstated expectations that commentators attach to technological capability, forgetting the naked reality—in situations like these, it is not the gun, but the man behind the gun, that matters. Pinning high hopes on nuclear weapons capability, while underestimating the role of human agency, is contradictory to the logic of deterrence theory. Deterrence only works well when decision makers behave in a rational manner. Leaders in both India and Pakistan must recognize that a continued Cold War-style military arms buildup, absent a framework for conflict resolution, threatens the stability of deterrence in South Asia.

Deterrence and human behavior. Interestingly, deterrence theory is silent on the behavior of the “irrational actor.” As Admiral Arleigh Burke, the longest-serving Chief of Naval Operations in US naval history, put it in 1960, “the major deterrent [to war] is in a man’s mind.” And history is witness to the fact that technological transformation has had little impact on the human inner self. Despite tremendous progress in material terms, basic human instincts remain the same, and the instinct of survival continues to be a central element in shaping human lives and their surroundings. The nation-state is an extension and accumulation of individuals and their threat perceptions, creating a national survival instinct.

There are many factors that determine the behavior of an individual. These include genetics, social norms, faith, culture, and attitudes. Likewise, state behaviors in international affairs are determined by collective historical experiences, belief systems, and geographic parameters. India and Pakistan are no exception; they are the result of historical, political, and geographic forces—and the interaction of these forces with human agency.

New technologies, old thinking. Despite economic progress and technological transformations, strategic planners in both India and Pakistan still operate in a conventional manner. Their respective security strategies and rationales are heavily militarized, and relics of Cold War politics.

The rules of the game changed in 1998, and India’s political leadership must understand that it can neither gain significant strategic advantage from a conventional war with Pakistan, nor does it currently possess the capability to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability. Similarly, Pakistan’s security planners must be cognizant of the fact that they cannot overpower India by any means, conventional or nuclear.

Bernard Brodie, the famous architect of nuclear deterrence strategy, once observedthat “thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose.” Because of deep prevailing political paranoia, however, security elites in both India and Pakistan continue to formulate dangerous nuclear strategies that are not in sync with the basic concept of deterrence. The two countries’ strategic planning is gradually shifting from “war prevention” to “war fighting,” and they are trying hard to undo each other.

In South Asia, nuclear technological transformation is driving the military and nuclear policies of both nations. India’s hybrid warfare strategy is fueling a secessionist movement in Baluchistan (one of four provinces in Pakistan), opening a “second front” with Afghanistan through support to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (or TTP, the largest militant organization in Pakistan), and threatening to cut water supplies governed by the Indus Waters Treaty between the two nations. India’s military Cold Start Doctrine, which aims to undercut a conventionally weak—but nuclear—adversary by quickly mobilizing conventional retaliatory attacks, is highly destabilizing. In fact, this approach is laying a structural foundation for a potential nuclear war.

In response to India’s Cold Start doctrine, Pakistan developed the NASR short-range ballistic missile to compensate for the rapidly increasing conventional asymmetry between the two nuclear rivals. Pakistan’s approach to the looming conventional threat resembles Russia’s doctrine of “escalate to deescalate,” which conceives of using tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict to compel an adversary to halt large hostilities and respect the status quo. The other potential reason for the development of the NASR missile is the lack of margin of error for Pakistan, which does not have the large nuclear force and vast strategic depth of its nuclear adversary.

The colossal conventional arms buildup in the region, coupled with the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean and policies for the development and potential deployment of ballistic missile defense systems, has the potential to change the balance of power in the region. An unchecked nuclear arms race would have a negative effect on the fragile security environment of the Asian continent in general, and South Asia in particular, pushing the region toward a perpetual “security trilemma” in which actions taken by India to defend against China trigger insecurity in Islamabad.

In my opinion, the strategic landscape of the Asian continent drastically changed after the 2011 announcement of a US “pivot to Asia,” also known as the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific. This US policy gave rise to what I believe is more accurately described as a “security quadrilemma” than a trilemma: China’s nuclear and conventional buildup to counter the increasing US military buildup in Asia and the Pacific sets off alarm bells in New Delhi, and India’s countermoves against Beijing in turn aggravate Pakistan’s sense of insecurity.

It appears as if the Indian nuclear establishment is under the delusion that possession of nuclear weapons and associated advanced weaponry protects India from any security challenge. That, in turn, gives India the confidence to pursue an aggressive stance and test the credibility of Pakistan’s deterrence by committing serious ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (a temporary border, agreed to by both nations in 1972, that divides the disputed Kashmir region) and the Working Boundary (which India identifies as the international border, but which also includes the disputed Indian-occupied Kashmir territory along with India’s internationally recognized land). To make matters worse, the Indian military’s rhetoric of carrying out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control—in response to the 2016 attacks by militants on the Pathankot and Uri Indian military bases—is inherently a tectonic shift away from deterrence theory.

Deteriorating conditions. In 2018, according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indian forces have carried out more than 415 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the death of 20 civilians and injuries to 71 others. In retaliation, Pakistan forces have destroyed Indian military check posts, resulting in the killing of five Indian soldiers. According to India’s defense minister, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control as many as 351 times this year.

In a study published by American disarmament expert Lewis Dunn at the end of the Cold War, Dunn named three conditions that played a critical role in stabilizing deterrence and preventing the use of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union: political, technical, and situational conditions. Politically, according to Dunn, if a country’s stakes are low, deterrence works, but if the stakes are existential in nature, deterrence cannot work. Technically, deterrence depends on how reliable and survivable nuclear command and control structures are. And thirdly, the situational conditions for deterrence depend upon the overall global power structure. During the Cold War, deterrence worked because it was bilateral, but today the world power structure is inherently multipolar and therefore more unpredictable.

Unfortunately, in the context of South Asia, these three factors are negatively affecting stability in the region. Political dialogue between India and Pakistan has been suspended since the 2008 Mumbai attacks by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and today there is no chance of resumption of this dialogue. Regarding the technical conditions today, both countries’ command and control systems are still in development and are untested. Situationally, the strategic landscape of South Asia is very complex, with multiple internal and external factors that cast deep shadows on both nations’ national security strategies, pushing the deterrence stability in South Asia toward failure.

Without a credible conflict-resolution framework, and in the absence of a regional arms-control mechanism, strategic circumstances in South Asia are likely to deteriorate further and head toward complete gridlock. Deterrence stability is under tremendous pressure from increasing conventional and unconventional imbalances. The nuclear threshold is getting blurred, and war is no longer a distant threat.

In these circumstances, political and military establishments in both countries should do some soul-searching and realize that clinging to the past will darken the future. All stakeholders should ask themselves three simple questions: Do nuclear war-fighting capabilities enhance or erode deterrence? Are these military and nuclear buildups sustainable? And could these gigantic resources instead be invested in building peace, reducing abject poverty, and saving humanity from the edge of nuclear winter?

Same version of the article appeared in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

By: Muhammad Suleman*

March 20, 2018

 Last week, on a three-day official visit, a high profile 30-member Iranian delegation led by the country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Pakistan. The delegation comprised of businessmen and investors who displayed an interest in matters pertaining to trade, energy and culture, among others. During his visit, he held formal talks with the President, Prime Minster, Foreign Minister, Chief of Army of Staff and other important dignitaries in Pakistan. He also had an extensive media interaction, gave exclusive interviews to some of the country’s leading media groups, addressed a think-tank on Pakistan-Iran relations in Islamabad, as well as the Pakistan-Iran business forum in Karachi. During his visit, he spoke about multiple critical issues such as Iran’s inclusion in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, Iran-India relations, Chahbhar port and Indian role, Afghanistan, Iran-KSA relations, trade relations, and terrorism among others.

On the eve of the conclusion of his visit, Iranian Foreign Minister declared it as a successful one and on his twitter account posted;

“On 70th anniversary of Iran-Pakistan relations, completing a very successful three-day visit to our eastern neighbor, accompanied by a large and serious business delegation. Big turnout in Islamabad and Karachi business forums. Neighbors are, and always have been, Iran’s priority”

Importance of the Visit

Iranian foreign minister’s visit has taken place at a time when the region is in a flux with prevailing uncertainty, misperceptions and a deteriorating security situation. With the ongoing development projects in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, commencement of the Chahbhar port, the involvement of regional actors in the said projects, as well as the geostrategic military alliances, Pakistan-Iran relations had become clouded with doubts and uncertainties.

This visit by the 30 plus member Iranian delegation headed by the country’s foreign minister was the first step in normalizing and moving forward the bilateral relations, while also addressing some of Pakistan’s concerns, particularly regarding Indian activities, and the Iranian soil could be used to destabilize Pakistan. During various media talks and public interactions, the Iranian FM, in an attempt to assuage these concerns, reassured that Iranian soil will not be used against Pakistan.

Outcome of the Visit

The visit by the Iranian foreign minister was aimed at enhancing bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries especially in the economic domain. Important meetings and interactions with both government and media were held by H.E. Mr Zarif. While some misperceptions do exist, mainly concerning Pakistan’s role in the Saudi-leld military coalition and Indian involvement in the geostrategic port of Chahbhar, a direct rival to Pakistan’s Gwadar port, both two sides were committed to working on resolving these issues.

A subtle remark made by the Iranian FM on Pakistan’s role as a mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia was also not lost. During a television interview on this topic, he stated that, “unfortunately he [former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif] was not as warmly received in Saudi Arabia on this particular proposal. There was no reception to his suggestion.” This subtle statement hinted towards Iran’s interest in utilizing the strong Pakistan-KSA relations towards its own regional goals.

Another important aspect of the visit was the Iranian support for the Kashmiri cause. There are very few countries in the world which openly back the Kashmiri struggle for independence, and Iran has consistently been one of them. In line with Tehran’s position on the issue, following the Iranian foreign minister’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, following statement was issued by the foreign office whereby the Iranian FM “reiterated support for the peaceful struggle of the peoples of Palestine and Kashmir for their right to self-determination”.

Consequently, it would not be incorrect to say that the recent visit of Iranian foreign minister was part of a series of the ongoing efforts by Tehran to improve its economic and security cooperation with Islamabad, as well as remove the existing misperceptions between both countries.

* The views herein are of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Centre. Mr Suleman is a Research Associate at CPGS. He holds a Masters degree in Strategic Studies from the National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad, and an MPhil degree in Political Science from International Islamic University, Islamabad.

 

DG IAEA, Mr Yukiya Amano’s second visit to Pakistan

12 March 2018

Islamabad: Mr Yukia Armano, Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Islamabad earlier today on his second visit to Pakistan in 5 years. During the three day visit, Mr. Armano will meet with the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss strengthening Pakistan-IAEA cooperation in the peaceful applications of nuclear technology. He will also visit the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) centers in Islamabad, Faisalabad, and Karachi.

The visit comes following the recent agreement by Pakistan with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the application of safeguards at K-2 & K-3. The draft of the Agreement was approved during the IAEA Board of Governors (BoG) meeting in March 2017. Pakistan has also formally applied for the membership of the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG); NSG is a voluntary association aims to prevent nuclear proliferation by implementing guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports. Pakistan believes that NSG membership should be criteria-based and non-discriminatory.

Prior to this, DG IAEA has visited Pakistan in March, 2014 when he met with President Mamnoon Hussain, the then Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, as well as officials from PAEC and Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA). Mr. Amano also inaugurated the Pakistan Center of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) in 2014, while admiring the impressive training activities being carried out by Pakistani authorities.

The intention to establish a Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (CoE), which would act a hub of training for regional countries in the areas of physical protection and nuclear security was outlined by Pakistan at the 2012 at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. Since, then, and in close partnership with the IAEA, Pakistan has organized various courses and training workshops for professionals working in the fields of nuclear safety, security and physical protection. The PCENS is working closely with the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS).

Pakistan is a founding member of the IAEA, and has a history of excellent cooperation and partnership with the IAEA. Being an energy-deficient country facing acute power shortages, which are hampering national development, the government of Pakistan is exploring every potential avenue to meet these growing demands, including the possibility of nuclear energy to plug the deficit. Currently, four Nuclear Power Plants (K-1, C-1, C-2 and C-3, C-4) are in operation in the country, and two bigger units (K-2 & K-3) of 1100 MW each, are under construction near Karachi. These plants are expected to add a sizeable share of electricity to the national grid.

Unlike our eastern neighbor, all of Pakistan’s civil nuclear reactors are under IAEA safeguards, without exception. Pakistan is fully compliant of its obligations under international agreements, and remains committed to continuing and expanding cooperation with the Agency. Pakistan’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) has also expressed a strong desire to “continue to contribute meaningfully towards the global efforts to improve nuclear and expand international cooperation in these areas and play a positive role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as a provider of expertise and services in peaceful nuclear application.” Furthermore, the NCA has appreciated the role of nuclear applications in the fields of “health, agriculture, medicine and industry” in the development of Pakistan.

Keeping in view the four decade of experience, and a strong nuclear safety and security culture and record, as well as highly robust command and control mechanisms, Pakistan should be eligible to provide nuclear “fuel cycle services” under IAEA, based on “non-discriminatory” nuclear fuel cycle assurance mechanisms. Additionally, Pakistan is also qualified to become a member of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) and other high tech cartels. These legitimate aspirations are reinforced by 42 years of safe and secure operations of nuclear power plants under IAEA safeguards, without a single nuclear incident or accident. The further strengthening of cooperation with the IAEA will be a positive addition to Pakistan’s nuclear portfolio.

Author bio: Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). The views expressed by the author do not represent the institute. He tweets @tahirdss

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