The National and international experts on Nuclear non proliferation have said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved to avoid the nuclear war in South Asia, adding that the negative propaganda against Pakistan’s Nuclear program should be stopped.
Leading international non-proliferation experts on Wednesday both expressed confidence in the steps taken by Pakistan for the safety and security of its nuclear program and emphasized of Pakistan government to address some of the lingering concerns about past policies.
They were speaking at a daylong Conference titled ‘Nuclear Non – Proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament; Contemporary Challenges and Prospects’ organized by Islamabad based think tank Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) with the support of German Foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The Conference that was attended by large number of Pakistan based foreign diplomats, academia, members of civil society and media, had been organized to build international support for Pakistan’s case for access to civilian nuclear technology and membership of the nuclear clubs.
Pakistan, which boasts of decades of experience of successful operation of nuclear power plants and an impeccable security record, has long sought access to civilian nuclear technology to meet its growing energy requirements and other civilian uses. However, the progress towards that goal has been impeded by unfounded concerns about the country’s program.
Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Bokhari, while inaugurating the Conference, said that it was now time that the world accepted Pakistan’s call for non-discriminatory nuclear cooperation.
He said that every country had the right to benefit from advanced nuclear technology.
The Senate chairman said Pakistan because of a robust nuclear command and control structure and independent nuclear regulatory authority had a flawless nuclear safety and non-proliferation record – a fact that has been admitted by the International Atomic Energy Agency on several occasions.
President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies Senator Sehar Kamran said that myths and misperceptions about Pakistan’s nuclear program needed to be shed because they were outcome of a disinformation campaign against Pakistan for maligning its image.
She advised the government to counter the propaganda against the nuclear program through “logical rebuttals and proactive diplomacy”.
Senator Sehar Kamran warned that Western policies of nuclear cooperation based on discrimination, exceptionalism, favouritism, geopolitical and commercial interests could harm South Asia’s regional balance and peace and stability.
CPGS President reminded that Pakistan’s nuclear program was for peaceful purposes with no known instance of diversion of material from civilian program to the military program.
She said Pakistan looked forward to the removal of barriers to equitable access to international civil nuclear cooperation and hoped that the deliberations at the Conference would eventually help reject the baseless propaganda against Pakistan’s nuclear program and accept its justified case for peaceful nuclear cooperation.
Chairman Senate Defense Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, in his keynote presentation said, stated the western powers must shun double standards on the nuclear issue and treat India and Pakistan at par, otherwise their claims for nuclear non-proliferation will sound hollow and be seen as a triumph of political interests over principles.
Talking about the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, he said it had disastrous consequences for the region, because the deal was not about nuclear energy but about containing China, making India the regional hegemon in South Asia and it helped inject India into Afghanistan with the result that with 2006 onwards, the Pakistan-US consensus over Afghanistan started unraveling. Moreover, it exposed US double-standards on the nuclear issue as India was granted exemptions by violating the NPT and even US laws.
Emphasizing the need to resolve Kashmir issue, he further said that the region around Pakistan remain volatile and unstable without resolving the core issue of Kashmir. He said security cannot be compartmentalised and there can be no nuclear disarmament or arms control without settling Kashmir issue.
He said a Kashmir settlement would promote nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, otherwise regional security without Kashmir solution is like ’staging Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark’. He urged implementation of UN Security Council Resolution # 1172, unanimously passed on June 6, 1998, who called for resolving ‘root causes of tensions like Kashmir’.
Dr. Peter Lavoy, former US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (APSA), said there could now “real possibility of a legitimizing nuclear deal between the United States and Pakistan.” Pakistan has long sought a nuclear deal with the US on the lines America has with India.
Dr Lavoy asked Pakistan government to continue working towards “nuclear normalization” with US and other members of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Such a move, he believed, would help in building sustainable trust between Pakistan and NSG about “responsible custodianship of nuclear weapons”.
The former senior US official listed various steps that Pakistan would be required to undertake for satisfying the lingering concerns of the world.
Dr Lavoy said US policy towards Pakistan’s nuclear program was shaped by state of its bilateral relations with Islamabad, geo-political situation in the region, Pakistan’s commitment to counter-terrorism and its (Pakistan’s) nuclear policies and practices.
Mark Fitzpatrick, Director for Non-proliferation and Disarmament Program of UK based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) said fears about security of Pakistan’s nuclear material were quite often over-blown and there was insufficient recognition of the steps taken by the country to protect its nuclear programme.
He said: “A fundamentalist takeover of the country is highly unlikely given the cohesion and discipline of the army and the esteem in which it is held.” He gave an overview of various possible risks to the security of nuclear material and facilities, but said chances of success of such misadventures were dim.
Fitzpatrick opined that “national paranoia about US intentions” was undermining the steps taken by Pakistan for securing its nuclear material.
Vice Secretary General China Association of Arms Control and Disarmament Hu Yumin noted the steps taken by Pakistan government for protection of its nuclear facilities and material. He said Pakistan as a party to the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) has been working productively with the IAEA to implement the Nuclear Security Action Plan (NSAP) to deal with safety and security of radioactive source and illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.
Pakistan, he further recalled, regularly submits reports to the UN Security Council 1540 Committee on the measures taken to exercise control over the transfer of sensitive materials and technologies.
He said China would continue working with countries in South Asia for promoting nuclear energy supply and enhancing nuclear security.
China is the major international supporter of Pakistan’s quest for nuclear energy. It has helped Pakistan build the nuclear power plants and the cooperation is continuing.
Speaking about the Nuclear Security Summit in Hague, Dr. Oliver Meier, a researcher with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs¸ described nuclear security as work in progress.
The 2014 NSS in The Hague, he maintained, was a key event, but made incremental progress in taking the nuclear security agenda forward.
He suggested that decisions taken at NSS should be made binding for participating states instead of keeping their implementation voluntary.
Amb Munawar Bhatti called for a new dialogue at the UN level on disarmament. He said the world’s concerns about Pakistan program were political in nature.
Mr Bhatti said India was pioneer of nuclear and fissile systems in the region, but was rewarded with a nuclear deal, but Pakistan was made to suffer for safeguarding its national interest.
Dr Riffat Hussain said fears about Pakistan’s nuclear security were exaggerated by certain lobbies so that they could be used as bargaining chip in dialogue. Dr Mansoor Ahmed said Pakistan stockpile was very small and there was very little chance of its theft.
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman gave an overview of Pakistan’s plans for increasing the contribution of nuclear energy to country’s generation mix.