Why Pakistan should not sign FMCT?

Dr. Shaista Tabbasum

After the use of nuclear bomb on Hiroshima Nagasaki the policy of nuclear non-proliferation was introduced mainly by the United States. The policy was meant to discourage any attempt of acquiring nuclear technology to the other states, although the US was at that time all alone in this technology but within the decade this technology was acquired by Soviet Union, France and Britain. However the US along with non- proliferation also adopted under this new approach of non-proliferation policy India (India benefitted from US Atoms for Peace program and misused for building nuclear weapons, US initially did not wittingly aided Indian nuclear weapons program. Likewise Israeli nuclear program has been aided by France mainly and not be the US) and Israel benefited.
The World powers agreed on a treaty the NPT (nuclear non- proliferation treaty) an institutional effort to discourage states to enter the nuclear club. Three states later on were successful in developing their own nuclear weapons but remains out of the NPT are; Pakistan, India and Israel.
The FMCT is basically an attempt to stop the production of fissile material-the key ingredients for producing nuclear weapons. Most of experts agree that the fissile material most certainly meant the production of highly enriched uranium- but it may also include such other materials that might be used in nuclear weapon proliferation like neptunium, natural uranium americium plutonium 240 & 242 etc.
Since the entry into force of NPT, a significant issue for the disarmament and arms control community has been the continued production of fissile material. Therefore although the idea for such treaty was on the proposed agenda of the conference on disarmament (CD) but finally materialized in Dec 1993, when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution 48/75 recommended the negotiation of a non-discrimination, multilateral treaty effectively verifiable, banning the production of fissile material for weapon and other nuclear explosion devices.
Although negotiation in the CD was endorsed by all states at 1995, 2000, 2005-2010 NPT review conference but the bulk was the informal discrimination regarding treaty purpose, scope, the role of IAEA, transparency and stockpile, treaty structure and functionary.
Pakistan has historically taken a consistent position on FMCT. It supported the UN General Assembly resolution Dec 1993. Pakistan in the beginning delayed the start of negotiation process at the Conference on Disarmament by objecting on the scope of the proposed treaty. Pakistan insisted that the treaty mandate should also include containment on the existing stockpiles of fissile materials.
The issue of including or excluding the existing stockpile of fissile material had been the major obstacle to launch negotiation while some states like US ,UK & Japan favored a treaty which only limits future production of fissile material while the other group of states pressed that the treaty should also address fissile material already produced stocks. This would ultimately require the nuclear weapon states irreversibly down blend existing stocks of weapon graded fissile material ensuring that they could never be used for weapon purposes again.
Meanwhile, in 1995 NPT was extended indefinitely and the CD also pushed the CTBT, which later opened for signature. Pakistan and India refused to sign the new treaty having their own reasons. New developments in the region happened in 1998 when Pakistan followed India tested its nuclear device. The UN passed resolution 1172 asking both Pak & India:
Demands that India and Pakistan refrain from further nuclear tests and in this context calls upon all States not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
Pakistan has never agreed to talks under US pressure that is one of the main reason for negative propaganda against Pakistan’s nuclear program as Pakistan’s Ambassador to CD Mr. Munir Akram said’ we believe that a wide disparately in fissile material stockpiles of India & Pakistan could erode the stability of nuclear deterrence. In a later statement he said that Pakistan assumed “India will transfer its large fissile material stocks into nuclear weapons and thus Pakistan cannot therefore agree to un-equality”.
Pakistan’s position on FMCT is clearly determined by its concerns about parity with India. Although at some stage in October 1998, Pakistan thought of entering CTBT provided some similar responses were to be proposed from India as well but Pakistan’s flexibility turned to rigidity because of the 123 agreement between India and the US for peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
One of the very serious consequences of the deal would be a substantial increase in Indian fissile material production capability. India has been successful in keeping 8 of its existing nuclear power plants out of the IAEA safeguard, besides its dedicated military nuclear facilities. If all of these 8 nuclear power plants are used for fissile material production, their combined annual yield would amount to a 448 kg annually worth about 75-90 additional nuclear weapons for year. This would be more than 12 times the current annual product of fissile materials in India. Some proponents of the US-India nuclear agreement argue that these plants were currently not under safeguards. If wanted to use these for fissile material production it could have done it so. But actually these units were unattainable due to acute shortage of uranium in India. When the India start receiving American supplied nuclear fuel for their safeguard plants however, they would be able to use their domestic uranium resources for the production of plutonium in these reactors, all total would perhaps amount to 700 weapons.
While about Pakistan it was reported in the western media that Pakistan has accumulated about 2 metric tons of HE uranium enough for 80 weapons. Pakistan also has about 100 kg of weapon plutonium. So altogether it has fissile material sufficient for 100 percent. At the same time Pakistan is constantly expanding its fissile material production capacity & increasing its reliance on plutonium weapon.
Pakistan also showed its interest to enter in any similar deal with the US. But the earliest US response was very discouraging, as said by the US President Bush while replying to a question in press conference in Pakistan. ‘As to the civilian nuclear program, first of all, I understandthe President brought this issue up with methat Pakistan has got energy needs because of growing economy. And he explained to me the natural gas situation here in the country. We understand your need to get natural gas in the region, and that’s fine. Secondly, we discussed a civilian nuclear program, and I explained that Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories. So, we proceed forward, our strategy will take in effect those well-know differences’.
As obvious from the various statements of different US government officials Pakistan and India are two different countries, so also the American policies for both are also different. India’s exemption from all international agreements including the FMCT and Pakistan has been pressurized to sign the treaty. This is quite discriminatory and therefore Pakistan is right not to sign the treaty.
Dr. Shaista Tabassum Chairperson International Relations University of Karachi, Ph.D in International relations. Author of Book titled; Nuclear Policy of USA in South Asia: Proliferation and non-proliferation. Participated in numerous National and International Seminars / Conferences.

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