Strategic trade controls

Having been invited to address this second EU Conference on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in Brussels on 30th September-1st October 2013 on the subject of Strategic Trade Controls, I speak in my personal capacity; and shall focus on the objective of this Conference to provide inputs for assisting the EU in its non-proliferation policy and implementation.
In today’s world trade liberalization is the objective, as evidenced by the WTO system in which controls are an exception and can be appealed against. When enforced by control regimes such as the NSG, MTCR and Australia Group however; which are not treaty based, are exclusive in nature, and answerable only to themselves, however laudable their objective and intention as indeed is the prevention of WMD proliferation, their operation needs examination to assess whether changes are required.
I will do so in the context of the EU and South Asia. The US-India nuclear deal and the subsequent NSG exemption for India, despite reservations within and without the EU, was a freight train driven through an already weakened non-proliferation regime, exempting from safeguards eight existing power reactors and an ambitious breeder reactor programme capable of considerable weapons grade fissile material production, 240 nuclear weapons annual capacity from the eight reactors alone. Future indigenous reactors are also exempted. An opportunity was lost for a package deal to treat both India and Pakistan equally to meet their legitimate energy needs and to introduce strategic restraint into this region. Realpolitik and commercial considerations outweighed the declared objectives of the NSG. Furthermore the strategic stability on which depends peace and security in South Asia was also disturbed.
Pakistan is firmly committed to non-proliferation and is a mainstream partner in the global non-proliferation regime. Pakistan’s nuclear security regime is based on four pillars: one, a well defined, robust command and control system; two, a rigorous regulatory regime covering all matters related to nuclear safety and security facilities; three, a comprehensive export control regime; and four, international cooperation consistent with its national policies and interests as well as with international obligations.
Our contribution and efforts - including in strategic trade controls through national legislation, institutionalisation and implementation - are of national and global signifiance. Pakistan’s domestic export controls conform to the standards/control lists of the NSG, MTCR and Australia Group. Located in a part of the world made more volatile by the occupation of Afghanistan we are also intoducing radioative monitoring portals at all entry and exit points.
To benefit from the best practices of others we have an active programme of cooperation with the IAEA and many countries including the USA, UK, EU, Japan and China.
The steps and actions taken by Pakistan are no less robust and effective than those of our neighbours in the region, and hence Pakistan is equally qualified for nuclear commerce and trade.
It is time for the EU not to compound the mistake of not supporting an NSG exemption for Pakistan. Pakistan which is gravely energy deficient and has all its power reactors under safeguards, with a declared policy of safeguarding all future such reactors, merits nuclear commerce with the NSG. Pakistan wants to join the NSG and the other three control regimes for which it is eminently qualified and to which it can contribute.
The EU should support a non-discriminatory, criteria-based approach for membership to the NSG, aiming at simultaneous membership for both South Asian countries, with no more exemptions or waivers tailored to accommodate India only.
And why should that be so? Equity and adherence to the principles and objectives of global non-proliferation, and of that of one of its handmaidens the NSG, is the principal reason. What are the other considerations?
The addition of India before Pakistan given the NSG rule of consensus would be counterproductive.
Pakistan is a country of over 180 million, a nuclear power strategically located, linked to 56 other Muslim countries apart from having close links to the EU, and has helped sustain the EU’s expedition in Afghanistan and now its Anabasis.
As Pakistan already is a nuclear power the apprehension manifest elsewhere that civil nuclear technology could lead in another direction is of no consequence.
With over 40 years of experience Pakistan operates the entire spectrum of the nuclear fuel cycle, and can offer such safeguarded services to other countries. For instance, future safeguarded enrichment services based in Pakistan would increase the limited pool of such suppliers and enhance confidence in energy security, as indicated in the IAEA’s Independent Experts’ Report on Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.
Keeping Pakistan out of the civil nuclear exchanges and commerce overseen by the NSG constitutes an unwarranted discrimination, with serious implications not only for Pakistan’s energy and national security but for the global non-proliferation regime as well.
The evolution of any just norm such as that of WMD non-proliferation, depends on a non-discriminatory system leading to growing collaboration and cooperation. If double standards and exceptionalism prevail however, the entire edifice is weakened. Pakistan cannot be treated as a partner and a target at the same time.
Pakistan cannot be technologically isolated due to its indigenous capabilities, and given its strategic partners within and without the Muslim world. Any attempt to do so would be regarded as an unfriendly act by the people of Pakistan, its allies, and the Muslim world and its diaspora.
What is the way forward for the EU? First of all, to step up its interaction with Pakistan both on non-proliferation and civil nuclear energy. Pakistan’s counterdraft to the EU’s non-proliferation draft agreement remains unactioned despite years having passed. The strategic partnership between the EU and Pakistan should include discussions on civil nuclear energy. Secondly, supporting membership of Pakistan to the NSG at the same time as that of India. Thirdly, the EU should support Pakistan’s candidature in the other three control regimes. MTCR membership for Pakistan, despite its missile technology credentials, has been outstanding since 2006.
Excluding Pakistan is not a path to follow. Greater integration of Pakistan into the non-proliferation regime, with concomitant cooperation on civil nuclear energy, would strengthen the regime and its strategic trade controls.

Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder is a retired diplomat who made this presentation at the recent EU Conference on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in Brussels.

The writer is a former Pakistani diplomat. Email:

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