WASHINGTON: Pakistan will not sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) because it considers it discriminatory, said Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry as he led the Pakistani team at a meeting with US officials on Tuesday on security, strategic stability and non-proliferation issues.
“It is a discriminatory treaty. Pakistan has the right to defend itself, so Pakistan will not sign the NPT. Why should we?” said the foreign secretary when asked at a briefing whether Islamabad would sign the NPT if Washington asked it to do so.
Already, 190 states have signed the treaty, which came into force in 1970. But South Asia’s both nuclear states, India and Pakistan, have stayed out of it.
Apparently, Pakistan’s categorical refusal to sign the treaty goes against the US desire to promote NPT’s compliance. But US officials have avoided criticising in public Pakistan’s position on this and other issues.
Although the leader of the US team, Under Secretary of State Rose Eilene Gottemoeller, has issued no public statements on the issues being discussed with Pakistan, her earlier statements do underline Washington’s careful approach on the issues that concern Islamabad.
When a team of the US Arms Control Association asked Ms Gottemoeller how could the United States encourage India and Pakistan to contribute to global nuclear disarmament process, she underlined the measures Pakistan had taken to protect its nuclear facilities.
“They have agreed to establish their regional training centre on nuclear security matters as an asset for the International Atomic Energy Agency in the regional context, to provide training courses for regional partners,” she noted.
“They can and they will play a role of that kind, and I think that’s very good, that’s very commendable.”
Responding to a question on fissile material production in South Asia, Ms Gottemoeller stressed the need for both India and Pakistan to take further steps to protect their fissile material holdings, as well as controlling and accounting for them.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, when asked to underline the steps Pakistan had taken to protect its nuclear assets, said: “We have established a multi-layer system and a strong command and control system.”
He assured the international community that Pakistan would maintain a “credible minimum deterrence, but it is not in an arms race with anyone”.
Mr Chaudhry pointed out that for some time India had been working on a massive build-up of conventional weapons.
“Pakistan is not asking for a parity with India but we do want a system of check and balance. Such a balance is necessary to promote peace,” he said.
“Pakistan believes in the concept of comprehensive strategic stability, which includes conventional weapons balance, nuclear restraint, resolution of the outstanding issues,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry said that Pakistan had proved its ability to fully protect its nuclear assets by not allowing the current wave of terrorism to reach anywhere near a nuclear facility.
“The measures we have taken, no other country has and it is recognised by other countries too. We have fulfilled our responsibility. There is zero tolerance for such activities.”
The foreign secretary said that Pakistan also had a right to the civil nuclear cooperation arrangement that the United States had with India.
“Our energy needs are more acute. Our power generation met international standards. All our facilities are under IAEA safeguards. And so we have a right to have access to civil nuclear technology,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry rejected the suggestion that Pakistan should focus on other sources, such as hydel. He said the safest approach was having a mixed bag of energy options, from hydel to nuclear.
He explained that by 2030, Pakistan planned to generate 162,000MW of electricity and nuclear would only be a small fraction of this total, 8,800MW.
The foreign secretary rejected a suggestion that IS and other militant groups could seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2015