UNDOUBTEDLY, Pakistan is proactively pursuing its credentials for the non-proliferation regime; nevertheless it is still vital to take further voluntary steps to advance its non-proliferation credentials. It would assist the country in getting into the Multilateral Export Control Regimes (MTCR). While reviewing the Multilateral Export Control Regimes, other than MTCR that works to prevent the proliferation of missile, all the rest three: NSG, WA and Australia Group works to contribute to the non-proliferation regime directly.
Accounting very briefly, Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) deals with the strengthening of non-proliferation regime directly by several clauses in it. It is committed to limiting nuclear arms proliferation by overseeing the export, re-transfer and protection of sensitive materials that could foster nuclear weapons development. The aim of the NSG Guidelines is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not pave way to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and that international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field is not hindered unjustly in the process.
Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) works to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations. Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities. The Australia Group is an informal group of countries (now joined by the European Commission) established in 1985 after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984, to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled. Its objective is to, not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons.
Pakistan’s case: Pakistan established a stringent command and control system soon after its nuclear tests. The other two thresholds crossed by Pakistan were passage of Pakistan Export Control Act of 2004 and notification of revised export control lists and in 2015, these revised lists cover the scope of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Australia Group (AG). Currently Pakistan‘s Export Control Lists are in complete harmony with the Control Lists maintained by the NSG, MTCR, and AG. SECDIV carries out a regular assessment of technological advancements and amendments done by international export control regimes and updates and amends Pakistan‘s export Control Lists accordingly. Pakistan has invested heavily in nuclear safety and security in the last decade or so. Further to the point, over 25000 trained personnel are working in the field to ensure the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
Similarly, like Wassenaar Arrangement’s objective, it is also in the national policy of Pakistan to ensure that transfer of any such item do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine its credibility, and are not diverted to support such capabilities. Pakistan has already separately operating civil and military facilities. Tasnim Aslam, head of the UN desk at the Foreign Office once said, “Pakistan has the expertise, manpower, infrastructure and the ability to supply NSG controlled items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses.”
Therefore, an entry into these groups can help strengthen Pakistan’s non-proliferation credentials that would ultimately build up a strong case for it as the country seeks an entry into the 48-member NSG. Similar is the case for India too. India has already managed to enter MTCR with the support of Russia mainly.
Since Pakistan is fully committed to the objectives of non-proliferation and disarmament. Pakistan is a state party to various international instruments including IAEA Code of Conduct on Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), and participates in the IAEA Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB). It also actively participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and regularly submits reports to the UN Security Council 1540 Committee. Pakistan has streamlined and strengthened its export control regime and enhanced its engagement with multilateral export control regimes. So Pakistan fully qualifies to get the membership of these export control regimes on fair terms. In this way, Pakistan would be able to contribute more meaningfully to the global non-proliferation regime as a full partner. Now it is time to engage with the diplomatic community more robustly.
— The writer works for Strategic Vision Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.