WASHINGTON: Pakistan told US officials that access to peaceful nuclear technology was a socio-economic priority for the energy-starved nation, says a joint statement issued on Wednesday.
Pakistan reassured the United States that “it will not be the first in its region to resume nuclear testing” and also explained its reluctance in signing various non-proliferation regimes.
The statement, issued after the seventh round of the US-Pakistan Security, Strategic Stability, and Non-proliferation Working Group in Washington on Tuesday, however, indicates a continued US interest in persuading Pakistan to join such regimes.
The statement showed that it was “not just another round of bilateral talks”, as a diplomatic observer said. Both sides raised sensitive issues relating to Pakistan’s nuclear programme, the impact of this programme on its relations with both the United States and India and various confidence building measures for improving India-Pakistan ties.
The statement also indicated that while on some issues, the two sides had a comfortable understanding, on others they disagreed.
Pakistan strongly put across its opposition to proposals that would seek a unilateral reduction in its nuclear assets and also emphasised the need for reducing the widening asymmetry with India on conventional weapons.
Sensitive issues raised in strategic dialogue held in Washington
At the meeting “Pakistan stressed the need for access to peaceful nuclear technology as a socio-economic imperative,” said a statement issued by the US State Department.
A day before the talks, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told a briefing in Washington that Pakistan also had a right to the civil nuclear cooperation arrangement that the United States had with India.
Mr Chaudhry and US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller co-chaired the meeting.
The statement shows that while Pakistan focused on access to civil nuclear technology, the United States stressed the need for Islamabad to adhere to an international non-proliferation regime.
“Both sides emphasised the desirability of continued outreach to integrate Pakistan into the international non-proliferation regime,” said the statement.
Mr Chaudhry, however, had said in his briefing that Pakistan would not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty because it’s discriminatory.
According to the joint statement, the United States underscored its continued efforts to realise the agenda set forth in President Barack Obama’s 2009 Prague speech, including the importance of commencing negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament (CD).
“Pakistan underlined its preference for a broader Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) that addresses the asymmetries in existing stocks,” the statement added.
Pakistan also stressed that its “position on FMT will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia”.
Pakistan insists that its nuclear programme is focused only on dealing with a perceived nuclear threat from India and it would only join an agreement that also addresses its fears.
The talks covered a wide-range of issues, including international efforts to enhance nuclear security, peaceful applications of nuclear energy, non-proliferation, export controls, regional stability and security.
The US delegation welcomed Pakistan’s efforts to harmonise its strategic trade controls with those of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other multilateral export control regimes.
The delegations reaffirmed the high importance that both countries attached to preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery to states as well as non-state actors
Both sides noted the high priority that arms control had for the international community.
The United States outlined its nuclear stockpile reductions, explained its efforts to seek congressional approval to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and reaffirmed its commitment not to conduct further nuclear test explosions.
Pakistan noted its continued support form CTBT-related resolutions in the UN General Assembly, and its consistent stance that it will not be the first in its region to resume nuclear testing.
Both sides recognised their shared interest in strategic stability in the region. The United States welcomed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s 2014 statement to the UN General Assembly in which he noted that, to promote stability, Pakistan is prepared to explore new confidence building measures.
Pakistan also reiterated its commitment to Credible Minimum Deterrence and to pursue measures in the region aimed at building confidence and lessening the risk of armed conflict.
The United States and Pakistan 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 territorial and other disputes through peaceful means.
The United States expressed full confidence in Pakistan’s indigenous efforts to strengthen nuclear security, and welcomed Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen export controls and border security including through ongoing efforts for installation of radiation portal monitors at border crossings, as well as Pakistan’s hosting of IAEA training activities at its Nuclear Security Centre of Excellence.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2015