WASHINGTON: Pakistan has formally asked the US administration and Congress to support its application for joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama formally endorsed India’s application to join the group.

Pakistan submitted a formal application in Vienna last month, expressing its desire to join the group. But the US administration and Congress are both unwilling to support Pakistan.

In a letter to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Rela­tions, Pakistan’s Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani reminded Congress that Pakistan had taken a series of steps that qualify it for joining the NSG.

“Pakistan’s desire to participate in the NSG stands on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety,” the ambassador wrote.

“Pakistan has operated secure and safeguarded nuclear power plants for over 42 years. Safe and sustainable civil nuclear energy is essential for Pakistan’s future energy security and its economic development,” he added.

The letter, shared with Dawn, expresses Pakistan’s willingness to accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all foreign supplied nuclear reactors and nuclear materials similar to the current IAEA safeguards in place on all of Pakistan’s civilian nuclear facilities.

Pakistan argues that its presence in the NSG is in the interest of nuclear trading countries, as it will further promote NSG non-proliferation objectives by the inclusion of a state with nuclear supply capabilities and its adherence to the NSG guidelines.

“Pakistan has consistently maintained that criteria-based, non-discriminatory approach, which treats both Pakistan and India equally, while also simultaneously binding them to appropriate non-proliferation commitments, will not only strengthen the non-proliferation regime but also promote strategic stability in South Asia,” the letter explained.

Editorial: US support for India on NSG

Mr Jilani argued that Pakistan’s view has been “corroborated by incontrovertible evidence and public export analysis that the approach of granting country-specific exceptions, such as the NSG waiver in 2008, has neither benefited the non-proliferation regime nor the objective of regional strategic stability”.

The letter warns that publicly available reports on “significant upcoming fissile material facilities and build up of unsafeguarded weapon usable fissile material in Pakistan’s neighbourhood raise larger security and stability concerns for the region.”

Pakistan argues that a non-discriminatory and equitable approach by the participating governments of the NSG would help South Asia achieve a safer and more prosperous future.

“Pakistan remains ready to continue its constructive engagement with the United States and international community at large as a mainstream partner in the non-proliferation arrangements,” the Ambassador said.

Last month, Pakistan and the US held the 7th round of “Security, Strategy, Stability and Non-proliferation” dialogue to discuss a range of issues in nuclear non-proliferation. Both countries agreed on the value of Pakistan’s continued engagement, outreach and integration into the international non-proliferation regime.

The US also helped Pakistan develop Strategic Trade Controls. But these engagements did not translate into US support for Pakistan’s bid to join the NSG.

The US is not only supporting India’s application but is also encouraging other countries, including China, to back the Indian move.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered unconditional support to India’s entry into the NSG but China opposes the move as it discriminates against Pakistan.

Without China’s support India cannot join the group, as all membership applications need consensus of existing members.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2016