The 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was formed to prevent further nuclear proliferation when India diverted its Canadian-supplied nuclear technology anticipated for peaceful usage, to develop nuclear weapons in 1974. It now desires to be recognised as a member of the same NSG. As of now, however, China and seven other countries have blocked consensus with respect to India’s membership.
India’s pursuit for NSG membership has contributed to adjustments in the non-proliferation regime policies of Pakistan, which has much stronger credentials than India to become a member. Therefore, Pakistan formally applied for the membership in 2016 and galvanised substantial support from the US, China, Turkey and Russia. Pakistan has considerable obligatory framework, expertise, manpower and infrastructure to participate in multilateral strategic export control regimes.
Rudimentary premise of the NSG is to promote peaceful use of nuclear technology under adequate export control measures. With a history of zero nuclear terrorism, nuclear safety and security are taken as the highest priority in Pakistan’s security calculations, a fact recognised by the UN nuclear watchdog.
Pakistan is effectively administrating a vibrant Personnel Reliability Programme (PRP) for all its manpower employed for its strategic projects. The PRP is similar to the US system where security, medical and psychological evaluation programme is planned to certify only the most responsible personnel to perform their duties on sensitive projects.
Nuclear security in Pakistan rests on three basic pillars: Legislative and Regulatory Framework (LRF), Institutions and Organisations and Nuclear Security Systems and Measures. Pakistan has implemented LRF by promulgating the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Ordinance, the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority Ordinance and the National Command Authority Act. Under the LRF, Pakistan defined a comprehensive Export Control Act in 2004 on goods, technologies, material and equipment related to nuclear and biological weapons as well as their delivery systems.
Pakistan has instituted Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) in 2007 to scrutinise the enactment of the Export Control Act. The Pakistan Centre of Excellence on Nuclear Security (PCENS) is functioning as an exemplary facility with the responsibility for the provision of innovative training and the sustainability of nuclear security. Another training institute, the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS), was established for professionals, technicians and managers in the fields of nuclear safety and security. Nuclear security systems and measures in Pakistan are based on the concept of 5Ds that includes deter, detect, delay, defend, and destroy. Nuclear Emergency Management System (NEMS) is emplaced to appropriately tackle and cope with nuclear or radiological emergencies.
Pakistan also collaborates with international mechanisms designed to support national and global nuclear security infrastructure. Pakistan is party to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. Pakistan collaborates with various IAEA committees as an active member such as the Nuclear Safety Standards Committee, Transport Safety Standards Committee, Nuclear Security Guidance Committee, Committee on Safety Standards and Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network.
All these credentials merit strengthening of the NSG by Pakistan’s inclusive exports control laws as well as the designed regulatory frameworks. Only a discriminatory view may deny Pakistan’s credible candidature for NSG. With comprehensive nuclear fuel cycle experiences, Pakistan can undoubtedly adopt an effective separation plan and apply IAEA additional protocols as per same criteria of the safeguards agreement finalised between the government of India and the IAEA.
Therefore, NSG members should adopt transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria for simultaneous acceptance of the two state’s membership.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2018.