FMCT & Pakistan: ridiculous condemnation
August 12, 2011
Pakistan’s stance on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament and United Nations General Assembly has attracted a vicious criticism from the Western media and Pakistani nuclear pessimists during the last week. They have tried to create a negative impression about the country’s nuclear program in the global politics.
The current ruthless onslaught certainly multiplies Pakistani diplomats’ challenges in protecting and maximizing national interest of the state in the anarchical international society. There are ample chances that the anti-Pakistan forces would be able to convince the Western powers, particularly, the United States to impose nuclear related sanctions against Pakistan.
The ongoing media maligning tactics alarm those Pakistanis who desire for their country’s sovereign-credible-defensive-fence. They straight-forwardly reject internal and external initiatives to cap and roll back the country’s nuclear weapon program.
Ironically, numerous analysts accused and termed Pakistan as a stubborn and irresponsible nuclear weapon state without objectively examining Islamabad’s position on the treaty, i.e. the FMCT should deal simultaneously with both nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament . Nevertheless, instead of critically examining Pakistani representatives’ statements at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on August 4, 2011 and at the United Nations General Assembly on July 28, 2011, they simply denounced their country’s position.
The anti-Pakistan nuclear lobby frantically recommended that international community should reject Pakistan’s stance in the CD and constitute and approve the FMCT in the UNGA. Pakistan instead of submitting to the pressure took a firm stance in UNGA as well. On July 28, 2011, Pakistan warned that it would boycott any process to negotiate FMCT outside the deadlocked UN Conference on Disarmament—the sole negotiating forum for multilateral disarmament. Speaking in the UN General Assembly, Acting Pakistani Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar opposed the process to take negotiations for the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) outside the Conference of Disarmament. He categorically stated: “Pakistan will not join any such process nor would it consider accession to the outcome of any such process”.
Ambassador Zamir Akram reiterated Pakistan’s official stance on FMCT at CD on August 4, 2011. He pointed out that we are not living in a vacuum and therefore, we have to take into account our strategic environment, while entering into the negotiations of a treaty at the international forums. He stated: “From our perspective, these realities are the discriminatory policies pursued by some major powers regarding nuclear cooperation, which have created insecurity and imbalances. And for these reasons Pakistan has been compelled to make a stand against this kind of nuclear exceptionalism, selectivity and discrimination.”
The analysts who condemn Pakistan’s stance at the CD should examine objectively the trend of exceptionalism, selectivity and discrimination in the nuclear realm. It is imperative to understand the negativity of this trend for nuclear nonproliferation in the global strategic environment.
The general impression is that United States and its like-minded states have been working to constitute the FMCT out of the CD. These states, however, has failed to realize that keeping Pakistan out of the FMCT framework would not serve the purpose. It is because, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 prohibits all member States except the five acknowledged nuclear powers — the United States, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, France and China — from acquiring nuclear weapons. The NPT Article VI also obliges these states to adopt the nuclear disarmament process to denuclearize the entire world.
The NPT also requires all non-nuclear weapon member-States not to develop and acquire nuclear weapons and also to implement a safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) covering all nuclear materials that might be useful for weapons. The review of the debate on FMCT since 1993 manifests that the FMCT would not make any new demand from the NPT non-nuclear weapon member-States.
The non-nuclear-weapon states are already committed not to produce or use nuclear material for weapons. Therefore, the FMCT, in practice will be only addressing the nuclear arsenals of United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, China, Indian, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.
Islamabad‘s principal stance at the CD has certainly had a delaying effect on the FMCT negotiations, but it is an erroneous conclusion that Pakistan alone is responsible for blocking the culmination of the Treaty. There are numerous factors and States, which impede the finalization of the FMCT draft. Without understanding and addressing these obstructing factors and States, the future of FMCT remains incomprehensible; finalization of its draft very difficult; and, above all, its entry into force nearly impossible.
The bypassing and circumventing threats, criticism and maligning tactics are not the solution of the problem. The ending of the stalemate on the FMCT needs a practical approach that would facilitate all the stakeholders in producing a consensus among the nuclear weapon states on the fissile material production. Hence, it is imperative that the pseudo nuclear experts and biased international opinion-makers should realize that sovereign states do not afford to compromise on their fundamental security interests.
The history of Pakistan’s nuclear program reveals that the cursing and pressurizing Pakistan is a fruitless effort to engage it in the FMCT negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament. Thus, the realistic strategy is to understand and accommodate the security concerns of Pakistan instead of marginalizing it at the international forums.