Pakistan seeks US backing for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2016 20:25 IST
Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz said on Thursday expressed concern over growing India-US defence relations that are ‘disturbing’ strategic and conventional balance of power in the region.

Islamabad has formally asked the US administration and Congress to support its application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), saying the atomic trading club should adopt a non-discriminatory approach that treats India and Pakistan equally.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani, said in a letter to the US Senate committee on foreign rela­tions that Islamabad had taken a series of steps that qualify it for joining the NSG, the Dawn newspaper reported on Thursday.

While US President Barack Obama endorsed India’s application to join the NSG after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, the US administration and Congress are unwilling to support Pakistan, the report said.

Read: China leads resistance to India joining nuclear export club

Pakistan’s close ally China is among the countries opposing India’s application. The NSG makes decisions by consensus and India cannot join without China’s support.

“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 said.

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

He added Pakistan had operated “secure and safeguarded nuclear power plants” for more than 42 years, and that safe and sustainable nuclear energy is essential for the country’s future energy security.

The letter further said Pakistan is willing to accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all foreign supplied nuclear reactors and nuclear materials similar to the safeguards in place at all of the country’s civil nuclear facilities.

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

Referring to the waiver granted by the NSG in 2008 following the India-US civil nuclear deal, Jilani said Pakistan’s view was “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 claimed 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’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz said on Thursday expressed concern over growing India-US defence relations that are “disturbing” strategic and conventional balance of power in the region.

The US approaches Pakistan whenever it needs it, and abandons it when it doesn’t need the country, Aziz was quoted as saying by the media. “Pakistan will convey its concerns to US over the latest issues in the bilateral ties,” Aziz said, adding Pakistan and US officials are expected to meet in Islamabad on June 10.

Read: As Modi comes calling, Mexico backs India bid to join NSG

“We firmly conveyed it to the US that maintaining effective nuclear deterrence is critical for Pakistan’s security and only Pakistan itself can determine how it should respond to growing strategic imbalance in South Asia,” he said.

But Aziz added dialogue is the only solution to all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India.

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