US adds 7 Pakistani entities to sanctions list, move could boost India’s NSG bid

The list identifies entities “reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.

world Updated: Mar 25, 2018 07:39 IST
Shishir Gupta and Yashwant Raj
Shishir Gupta and Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Washington
Pakistan,US,Sanctions
The United States has added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that are subject to stringent export control measures.(Reuters File Photo)

The United States has added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that are subject to stringent export control measures, a move that Indian officials said would boost New Delhi’s bid to join the nuclear suppliers group (NSG), an elite club of countries that deal with trade in fissile materials and nuclear technologies. It could also undermine Pakistan’s ambition of joining the NSG.

The list identifies entities “reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.

Three of the companies were listed for “their involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities that are contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy interests of the United States”; two were found procuring supplies for nuclear-related entities already on the list and last two were suspected to be fronts for listed entities. An eighth Pakistani entity is based in Singapore.

The 23 additions, including 15 entities from the troubled South Sudan, were published by the US department of commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which leads the multi-agency determination process, on Thursday in the Federal Register, the American version of Gazette of India.

Although China and Turkey have cited procedural issues in adding new members to the NSG, both of them underline the ‘right of Pakistan’ to aspire to become a member of the club, which works on the principle of consensus to accept new members.

“We are not an NSG member, so we don’t exactly know what the deliberations are at the group. But our non- proliferation credentials are unmatched among other claimants,” said a senior Indian official familiar with India’s engagement with export control regimes. “We have a safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) and got a clean waiver from the NSG based on our clean track record. We leave it to others to judge whether other claimants to NSG membership have requisite credentials.”

NSG is the only major export control regime that India is not a part of; New Delhi is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

“India has a record of handling sensitive technologies and that’s the reason why the key export control groupings made us a member,” a second Indian official, who deals the same issues, said.

Both India and Pakistan are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which New Delhi maintains is discriminatory. All other members of the export control regimes are part of NPT.

Inclusion in the Entity List, as it’s technically called, is considered the “highest level of red-flag” that there is in the US export control regime aimed at preventing misuse or repurposing of American dual-use technology (equipment or technology that can be used for both civilian and non-civilian purposes) for undeclared use, mostly military.

It could not be immediately ascertained if these additions were a part of the general toughening of the US position vis a vis Pakistan under President Donald Trump, who has accused the one-time ally of “deceit and lies” and suspended nearly $2 billion in military assistance for its failure to act decisively against terrorists operating from its soil.

Entities on this list — businesses, research institutions, government and private organizations, individuals — are required to seek a license from the US government to purchase items subjected to Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which, it is generally presumed, will be denied to them.

There are other Pakistani entities on the list already but the new additions were described by officials and experts with knowledge of the issue and the process as “proof of Pakistan’s continued dishonesty and duplicitousness with regard to nuclear arsenal”..

The US list could imperil Pakistan’s ambition of joining the NSG, these persons said. Despite its poor public record of proliferation — helping North Korea, Libya and Iran — Islamabad has sought from the United States a civil nuclear deal that the latter has with India. Though it never found any traction, Pakistan could find it even more difficult to make its case in the face of these additions.

(with inputs from Jayanth Jacob)

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 23:44 IST