As India renews NSG bid, Pak throws in a no n-testing pact spanner

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2016 15:15 IST
File photo of Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi prior to a meeting at Hydrabad House in New Delhi. (Ajay Aggarwal / HT Photo )

Pakistan has stepped up its effort to enter into a bilateral arrangement with India for not conducting a nuclear test as India renewed its bid for a membership to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG).

On Tuesday, Pakistan said the move will send a positive signal to the NSG, an elite club of 48 countries that deal with the trade in nuclear technology and fissile materials, that is “discussing the non-proliferation commitments of non-NPT states in relation to the question of membership.”

The proposal, which has been made earlier too, is aimed at questioning India’s commitment to non-proliferation objectives that includes a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing. For any country to become an NSG member, it must be a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), commonly referred to as the NPT. Both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT.

Read| Anti-India or pro-Pakistan? Behind China’s NSG veto

Pakistani Prime Minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, initially announced the offer on August 12.

There was no formal reaction from external affairs ministry on this. But sources dismissed Pakistan efforts, saying “a country with known proliferation track record should not advise India on the issue.”

“In the larger interest of peace and stability in the region, as also in the global context, Pakistan has indicated the possibility that the two countries may consider a bilateral arrangement, which is reflective of its policy of promoting restraint and responsibility in South Asia and its consistent support for the objectives of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),” Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“The bilateral non-testing arrangement, if mutually agreed, could become binding immediately without waiting for the entry into force of the CTBT at the international level,” the spokesperson added.

Pakistan argues that while the unilateral moratoriums declared by the two countries were “voluntary” and “legally non-binding and could be withdrawn unilaterally, a bilateral arrangement will be mutually binding and difficult to withdraw from unilaterally”.

Read| India, Pakistan should bid together for NSG entry: Chinese media

After the 1998 nuclear test, Pakistan proposed India that the two countries should adhere to CTBT simultaneously.

India did not support the CTBT - an arms control treaty - when it came to being in 1996 and still it doesn’t. The CTBT has 183 signatories and 163 ratifications.

Though India is not a signatory, it says a voluntary moratorium on testing nuclear weapons adheres to the basic principle of no testing of nuclear weapons.

Membership of the NSG would increase India’s international clout and provide a vested interest in curbing the world’s most dangerous regional arms race as well as expand its civilian nuclear programme to address its energy requirements.

Read| Why NSG membership matters to India: All you need to know

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