The Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized a on the “International Nuclear Order” on April 12, 2016 at the Marriott Hotel Islamabad. The main aim of the conference was to identify the international nuclear order along with the regional politics in the field and to decipher the ongoing verdicts about the reasons behind the upset in global nuclear orderThe conference also reevaluated the global nuclear order in the wake of recent North Korean nuclear test and rising strategic capabilities.
Session I: Inaugural
The one day conference started off with the recitation of the Holy Quran followed by a comprehensive introduction of the SVI, presented by Ms. Sadia Kazmi, Senior Research Associate, SVI. In the inaugural session, the President/Executive Director of SVI, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, presented his welcome remarks. He welcomed and thanked the honorable Chief Guest, General (R) Ehsan ul Haq, distinguished chairs and speakers and worthy participants for affording valuable time out of their busy schedule and gracing the occasion with their presence. The conference was well attended by the members of academia, diplomats, policy-making civil and military establishments and students in the field of strategic and nuclear studies, and international politics from prominent universities in Islamabad.
Dr. Cheema presented a detailed overview of the pre-nuclear weapon international order as well as contemporary international nuclear order and highlighted the foremost prevailing challenges to global peace, security and stability. He said, in the contemporary international environment, major challenge to global peace, security and stability comes from the spread of nuclear weapons. The international mechanism to combat nuclear proliferation is becoming increasingly ‘inadequate’ not only to deal with potential proliferation, which are few but more determined, but also undermines objectives of the Articles I, II, IV and VI of the NPT. Until the 1980s, the international measures to prevent horizontal nuclear proliferation were relatively more successful, but later not only India, Israel and Pakistan became de facto nuclear weapon states but the non-nuclear weapon states (Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria) were not fully committed
Dr. Cheema presented a detailed overview of the pre-nuclear weapon international order as well as contemporary international nuclear order and highlighted the foremost prevailing challenges to global peace, security and stability. He said, in the contemporary international environment, major challenge to global peace, security and stability comes from the spread of nuclear weapons. The international mechanism to combat nuclear proliferation is becoming increasingly ‘inadequate’ not only to deal with potential proliferators, which are few but more determined, but also undermines objectives of the Articles I, II, IV and VI of the NPT. Until the 1980s, the international measures to prevent horizontal nuclear proliferation were relatively more successful, but later not only India, Israel and Pakistan became de facto nuclear weapon states but the non-nuclear weapon states (Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria) were not fully committed by the instruments of international non-proliferation regime. So far, nine states (P-5, T-3 and North Korea) have acquired nuclear weapons while more than 30 states have technological capability to acquire them.
He further elaborated that the efforts made to curb the spread of nuclear weapons have reinforced the impression that under the changing dynamics of global politics and national/regional security, challenges to nuclear non-proliferation are being ineffectively addressed. The NPT review conferences, which take place every five years, have often failed to achieve consensus on a final document on different issues pertaining to non-proliferation. Disagreement between NWS and NNWS on nuclear disarmament/horizontal nuclear proliferation under Article VI of the treaty, which calls upon P-5 NWS to ‘pursue negotiations’ for ‘effective measures’ within the framework of the NPT, lingers on with no consensus in sight. Similarly differences continue to persist in the interpretation and application of article IV of the NPT on peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
He expressed concern that the discrimination exercised in the implementation of the non-proliferation standards and employment of the Non-Proliferation Regime (NPR) as an instrument of great-power’s foreign and strategic policies’ objectives has raised questions about the sincerity behind its creation and subsequent application.
Dr. Cheema concluded by expressing his views on international nuclear order; he stated that among several other factors, a decrease in nuclear weapons inventories of NWS is a critical step in maintaining Global Nuclear Order. However, the ambiguity and secrecy about defining exact number of nuclear weapons by a state, creates general uncertainty, mistrust and misunderstanding. In addition, all the nations with the nuclear weapons continue to modernize or upgrade their nuclear weapons. Therefore, it could be inferred that global nuclear inventories would keep on increasing and modernizing unless robust, rational and unbiased efforts are streamlined by major nuclear power states.
Mr. Ronny Heine (Resident Representative KAS) in his welcome remarks offered thanks to the worthy Chief Guest and all valuable participants for accepting the invitation and gracing the event. Mr. Ronny applauded Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema and the SVI Team for organizing the one day national conference on the issue of great strategic significance. He gave a brief overview of the efforts by his organization in promoting democratic traditions in Pakistan and expressed his gratitude that they could get a partner like SVI to support them in this regard.
General (R) Ehsan ul Haq (Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee) thanked Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema and Mr. Ronny Heine for inviting him to speak on a subject that is most relevant to the current international strategic environment and has a direct impact on Pakistan’s national security calculus. He appreciated the rising trajectory of the Strategic Vision Institute and the stature that it has acquired in a very short span of time.
Gen. Ehsan opined that it would be an understatement to say that the international environment has witnessed fundamental transformation since the ratification of NPT in 1970s, because in the transformed multipolar global dynamic, with different nuclear stand offs, varying alliances and extended nuclear assurances, the application of the NPT is challenged by relevance and obsolescence.
He recalled that the NPT Review Conference, held in April – May 1995, gave a permanent lease of life to the NPT, perpetuating the divide between the haves and the have notes. Although the conference generated some optimism, it was short-lived as the intrinsic weaknesses of the NPT were brought into focus after 1) Indian nuclear tests that compelled Pakistan to follow suit, 2) US and Russian failure to ratify their security treaties 3) US deployment of national missile defense and 4) collapse of UN inspection efforts in Iraq.
He added that although the debate on the efficacy and success of the NPT as a centerpiece of the international nuclear order had been raging for a decade, the clandestine development of nuclear weapons and enrichment program by NPT signatory states i.e. North Korea, Libya, Iran and the dilemma created by North Korean withdrawal from the treaty, posed a serious challenge to the non-proliferation regime. Whereas, almost 40 countries are now believed to have the capability to make nuclear weapons or have mastered the nuclear fuel cycle.
Gen. Ehsan criticized the selective and discriminatory approach by signatory states, in pursuit of their geostrategic/economic agendas, which is undermining the moral and legal authority of the NPT. The most blatant of these has been the Indo-US nuclear deal and the efforts to include India into NSG membership. He highlighted the inability of the regime to bring into force the CTBT and the FMCT, as well as the futile attempts by the Nuclear Weapon States, who are also the permanent members of the UNSC, to increase the legislative role of the UNSC and bypass the IAEA and CD.
The Chief Guest suggested that the NPR has to be reformed in order to cope with the current realities and enhanced challenges. He hoped that these efforts would be based on the principles of equitable security and will bring benefit to all. However, he expressed concern about the fact that in real world/real politik, there is no justice or fairplay, there is only hard–nosed self-interest.
He recommended that Pakistan has to carefully monitor the development of the nuclear order and exercise utmost vigilance in safeguarding its own legitimate interests. In addition, the reforms of the international nuclear order, to make it equitable and bring it in consonance with the prevalent realities, would benefit Pakistan in the civilian nuclear field and mitigate energy crisis.
Gen. Ehsan concluded by stressing that criteria based approach for inclusion of new members in the NSG should be adopted. Inclusion of Pakistan would strengthen the Non-proliferation regime as we would have to undertake additional non-proliferation responsibilities. He said in his final remarks that Pakistan has successfully continued its nuclear program despite the highly discriminatory and obstructive nature of the regime. It would continue, no matter how adverse the environment, to provide Pakistan with the credible deterrence against the existential threats it confronts.
The session titled “Evolving North Korean Strategic Capabilities” was chaired by Ambassador (R) Masood Khan (Director General, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad). He thanked SVI and KAS for inviting him to chair a session discussing an important contemporary issue. Amb. (R) Masood introduced the distinguished speakers of the session and conducted the discussion. He also shared his valuable views on the topic while concluding the session.
Ms. Anum Riaz (Independent Researcher) while speaking on “Recent North Korea Nuclear Tests: Motivations and International Responses” reiterated that since the start of 2016 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been working towards further advancement of its nuclear and missile programs. Significant developments include DPRK’s claims to have successfully conducted a Hydrogen bomb test, a successful satellite launch, formation of a new military unit KN-08 brigade to deploy ICMBs, and test-firing of a new anti-tank guided weapon. The international community has widely condemned all these developments. However, Pyongyang seems determined to keep enhancing its nuclear and missile programs. She added, Pyongyang’s nuclear technological advancements have remained a source of concern at the international and regional level. After DPRK tested its fourth nuclear device on January 6, 2016, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) developed the toughest resolution UNSCR 2270 (2016) against the DPRK to date, in order to curb the advancement in its nuclear and missile domain.
Ms. Anum explained the demonstration of a more credible nuclear deterrent, technological advancement of nuclear capability, political motivation, regime preservation and power projection as the possible motives behind North Korean nuclear adventurism. She also presented a list of the UN Security Council resolutions adopted against DPRK.
She concluded her speech with observations that North Korean nuclear advancements pose a serious challenge to the global non-proliferation regime and isolating North Korea has proved to be counter-productive. However she recommended that ideal solution would be to resolve the issues with a balanced approach having sanctions and diplomatic engagement simultaneously.
Dr. Zafar Khan (Asst. Prof., Department of Strategic Studies, NDU) expounded on “Implications of North Korean Capabilities ”.
He said that although North Korea has already tested nuclear weapons capability four times and plans to conduct more as it passes through an embryonic stage of its nuclear weapons development program, not much is known about North Korea’s nuclear strategy and its implications.
It is shrouded in greater ambiguity as ambiguity rules and plays a central role in its nuclear weapons program. In the absence of North Korea’s policy document and institutionalization of its nuclear policy, it is not clear what nuclear strategy North Korea would opt for and why. Therefore, one may make speculative interpretations about the evolving nuclear strategy of North Korea.On the implications of North Korean strategic capabilities, Dr. Zafar said that any of the North Korean nuclear strategies would have strategic implications for North Korea in particular and the Korean peninsula in general. He elaborated that if North Korea retains the modest number, limits the nuclear weapons tests, stays defensive and restrains from using its deterrent forces, then this could have some positive implications on deterrence stability in the Korean Peninsula. However, if North Korea, in its embryonic stages of deterrent force development, increases its deterrent forces, miniaturizes nuclear weapons, develops sophisticated delivery systems, acquires an assured second-strike capability (nuclear submarine) and appears to be more offensive, then this may have greater security implications for the region. He concluded by assuming that apparently North Korea might cross the essential contours of minimum deterrence, which in turn would have dire security implications for the Korean Peninsula. This would put strategic pressures on South Korea and Japan regarding their legitimate security interests in the region.
Air Cdre. (Retd) Khalid Iqbal (Non Resident Consultant, IPRI) commended SVI and KAS for arranging a timely conference on a very important subject. In his presentation on “North Korea and Future of the Non-Proliferation Regime”, he said that relationship between the international non-proliferation regime and North Korea presents an interesting case study. For decades, cycles of witch hunt and tit for tat defiance have been the signature tune of this relationship.
North Korea did not find the parameters set by in-vogue international nonproliferation regime compatible with its perceived security concerns; therefore it withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003, and decided to develop nuclear weapons.
While playing hide and seek with the international non-proliferation regime, North Korea has been able to develop nuclear weapons and put in place compatible delivery systems as well. He opined that contemporary international non-proliferation regime is in disorder, not due to North Korea, neither due to pre-Joint Comprehensive Action Plan Iran, but because of its inherent structural contradictions and operational flaws. There is a need for bold course of action; otherwise future of non-proliferation is likely to remain bleak. In this reign, he added, the promises enshrined in the NPT for NNWS have often been flouted by NWS. Having nuclear weapons is a symptom; underlying cause is the security concerns. Non-proliferation regime wants to eliminate the symptoms without addressing the main drivers. It is indeed trying to impose a technical solution to political problems. This approach of exclusives is rendering the NPT as a relic.
In the concluding remarks, Air Cdre. (R) Khalid highlighted that on the side lines of Nuclear Summit in Washington, US President Barrack Obama joined South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, vowing to ramp up pressure on North Korea in the context of its recent nuclear missile tests. These remarks came as North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea on April 01, signalling that it would continue to develop its nuclear weapons. The speaker warned that tit for tat responses and provocations from both sides pose a danger to the peace and stability of Korean peninsula, thus greater responsibility rests with the US to handle the situation carefully.
North Korean Counselor/DHM, Mr. Kim Chong Li, while explaining North Korean stance, recalled that DPRK decided to withdraw from NPT in 1993 as it was facing issues regarding country’s defense and its sovereignty. However, US rather than addressing North Korea’s concerns, responded by imposing UN resolutions that called for full economic sanctions. Later, the talks were held between Kim II-Sung and Jimmy Carter without reaching any agreeable decision and both remained stuck to their respective stance. DPRK was dealing with US and IAEA, but policies towards DPRK remained unchanged which only moved from bad to worse. Thus North Korea had no option but to quit from NPT.
While giving his personal assessments on Six Party Talks, he stated that the main substance of Six Party Talks is the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula. North Korea was wholeheartedly participating in it since long but finally it came to the conclusion that the main proposal of Six Party Talks is not really aimed at the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula or to maintain peace and security in this peninsula, instead it was aimed at disarming DPRK only.
He added, if the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula is really significant then the US has to dismantle its nuclear program and bring its nuclear standards in line with the concerns of North Korea; only then the talks on this issue can be resumed on equal basis. He suggested that this is the only fair and wise choice. He supposed, if North Korea had dismantled its nuclear program, the world would see another Iraq. He underlined that recently DPRK proposed US to change the Armistice Agreement (that ended Korean War in 1953) into the peace agreement and have durable peace, but there is no response from the US.
On the future of DPRK, he stressed that for as long US refuses to withdraw its army from South Korea, disapproves of converting Armistice Agreement into Peace Agreement, continues to provide nuclear protection umbrella to South Korea, does not give up its hostile policies that include the policy to topple the DPRK government and does not change its mind, DPRK will continue developing its nuclear program. “We are not begging the US to come to table for a talk” he stressed.
He concluded by saying that US must have understood that there is no other way but to come to the table and talk with North Korea. He mentioned that if North Korea had not started its nuclear program it would have only led to another war in Korean Peninsula. He assured, whatever North Korea is developing (all missiles) under its nuclear program, it is for deterrence purposes only and North Korea will continue to develop these capabilities until it balances the security structure in the Korean peninsula. He was thankful for giving him the opportunity to present a balanced picture and stance of DPRK.
Ambassador (R) Masood Khan thanked Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema for inviting him to Chair the session. He summed up the discussion and concluded the session. He stated that it is the aspiration of Pakistan that Korean Peninsula should not get nuclearized, it should get de-nuclearized,there should be peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, Six-Party Talks should be started without any further delay and these talks must be productive. Mr. Khan said it is the overall framework of our policy that needed reiteration.
While recalling important points shared by the speakers, he said, nuclear missile program of DPRK has become reality as despite all the sanctions and the warnings they have been developing their nuclear program. He spoke, nothing has work so far, either the UN sanctions or unilateral steps taken by the US, Japan or South Korea. He reiterated that all that Pakistan wants is peace in Korean Peninsula and we do not want things to go out of control. He hoped that all the countries in the region including North and South Korea, Japan, China and the US, will manage the situation with utmost responsibility.
Amb. (R) Masood recounted that he been a witness to discussions in the United Nations on North Koran nuclear program on many occasions where these discussion usually have taken place between the US and China and their respective allies, so predominantly it was a bilateral decision in the UNSC regarding sanctions on North Korea and therefore it is important to look at the larger dynamics needs to understand the issue. North Korea, to its credit, has been most transparent in these pronouncements with regards to its nuclear missile program, there is no ambiguity. However the rest of the world including West and Europe has still been bit dismissive towards North Korea where they continuously refuse to take their so called insecurities seriously. He endorsed the DPRK representative’s stance that in contrast to the treatment met out to North Korea, a completely different approach has been adopted towards Iran by the West.
He brought into attention that we should see what future trajectory of the Korean Peninsula and nuclear escalation is, because so far, as said by Mr. Kim, US is not ready for a peace agreement and DPRK has also not decided to deescalate thus this situation needs to be handled carefully.
He further said that Pakistan has good relations with DPRK, South Korea and Japan, and plan to maintain that balance. He suggested there should be sincerity in nuclear politics as demanding others to disarm while not applying the same rules to one own self is not going to work, only then the collective goal of global peace and security can be achieved. He said Pakistan is not in a situation to judge others as South Asia itself has had its own problems.
While making concluding points he said that 1) the world is changing fast, it is already multipolar and alternative poles have already emerged. Hence there is some tendency in future that few other states can maintain the status quo, 2) Pakistan has soft power which needs to be developed further and projected effectively. We need to discuss the necessary next steps in consultation with the other states. He said we are developing a community of the advocates of soft power in Pakistan from various fields that would be a combination of soft, smart and hard power.
The third and final session entitled “Non-Proliferation Regime and International Nuclear Order” was chaired by Lt. Gen. (R) Naeem Lodhi. He thanked Dr. Cheema for inviting him to chair the session. He said that speakers’ and audience’ participation throughout the conference has been outstanding. Lt. Gen. (R) Lodhi introduced the panel of last session of One Day Conference by highlighting their professional expertise on national issues and nuclear studies.
The first speaker of the session III, Dr. Adil Sultan (Director R & A, PDS Branch, SPD) deliberated upon the “Evolving International Strategic/Nuclear Order”. He started the discussion by explaining how he perceives the evolving international strategic environment. He presumed that a gradual decline of the US as the sole Super Power and the emergence of new power centers and alliance structures could reshape the international strategic order. The possibility of a new Cold War with its epicenter in South China sea is likely to bring into focus the role of several US allies (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia), and possibly India, Vietnam, besides the few others. Conversely, to protect their own interests, China as well as Russia is reacting to the emerging challenge by expanding their respective zone of influence. Iran, after the conclusion of nuclear agreement, is likely to emerge as an important player in regional and global politics. Regarding South Asia, he said, India and Pakistan would continue to remain the two principal adversaries, despite former’s desire to de-hyphenate itself from the South Asian security complex.
The speaker also talked about the Indo-US nuclear deal and its implications for global nuclear order. He elaborated that India (non-NPT country) has been offered exceptional nuclear deal in violation of NPT’s Article 1 by the US, which allows India to keep 8 out of the existing 22 reactors outside the safeguards, besides the Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs). The fuel supplied to India for its civilian facilities would free up indigenous reserves to be used for military purposes only, thus significantly enhancing India’s bomb making potential. Dr. Adil expressed concern about India’s bomb making potential, which as a result of India-US nuclear deal, is likely to affect the security calculus of other states, including China and Pakistan. India in its bid to emerge as a global power is likely to surpass the nuclear inventories of UK, France and China in the future.
Dr. Adil concluded his presentation by stating that the emerging international nuclear ‘dis-order’ is likely to be the new nuclear order for the foreseeable future. Since nuclear and strategic orders cannot be de-hyphenated, therefore, political interests of major powers would continue to shape the emerging nuclear order. About the way forward he said, that the ongoing trends of discrimination and exceptionalism, if remained unchecked – could possibly unravel the existing NPT based nuclear nonproliferation regime with serious consequences for international security.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema (President/Executive Director of SVI), discussed the “Politics of Non-Proliferation Regime and Global Nuclear Order”. The basic premise of his presentation was that ‘nuclear proliferation is part of the international politics’. He explained that the objectives inherited by the great powers are political objectives. When the NPT was conceived in the late fifties, it was based on the objective to prohibit the production of nuclear weapons by containing a ‘balance of obligations’ which meant that the existing nuclear weapon states will not produce further nuclear weapons and the non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) will not resort to producing nuclear weapons. However the NPT proved to be a very discriminatory treaty, in which P5 solemnize their right to make nuclear weapons while put restrictions on NNWS not to produce nuclear weapons.
He recalled the statement of Indian Ambassador who stated in the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENCD) that “NPT amounts to allowing the criminals of the world to continue committing crimes but to put the newly born babies in the chain for the fear that they may commit crime.”
Dr. Cheema elaborated the difference between the international political order and international nuclear order. He stated that the international political order contains some kind of hierarchy of power at the international, regional and sub-regional levels. The post 1945 era inherited this hierarchy of power, which was based on two super nuclear powers, followed by great powers. The international political order was dictated by war as an instrument of policy, thus war would decide who the great power was. Conversely, with the production of nuclear weapons, war no more remained an option. It was also premised in the post cold war global nuclear order that possibility of nuclear war could only come from spilling of large scale conventional, bilateral, regional or international war. Hence there was no desire for war in the international political system and war wasn’t viewed as a policy option anymore. Nevertheless this was not adhered to by the remaining super power and Afghanistan was invaded followed by Iraq, whereas Syria and Libya was employed into war, consequently making war a prominent norm of international political system.
While explaining the post cold war international nuclear order, Dr. Cheema said, we inherited P5 in the post cold war international nuclear order along with the T4 (India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea). Albeit, dozens of NPT signatories NNWS possess large scale capability to produce nuclear weapons and can initiate their nuclear program after giving six months notice from NPT as was done by North Korea.
He further suggested that in order to reduce the number of nuclear weapons states, the NWS must resort to nuclear disarmament and should not resort to the use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against NNWS. This was the basic proposal by the NNWS in ENCD which stresses upon the need for asking the NNWS not to produce nuclear weapons; instead the negative security assurances to the NNWS may be prove to be more effective to make them forego their nuclear aspirations.
Dr. Cheema in the final remarks said that any state would ensure to defend its country against any potential threat and will acquire all means to maintain and safeguard its national sovereignty. Thus, if the nuclear weapons are not delegitimized and NWS continue using war as an instrument of their policy, the NNWS would continue seeking to produce nuclear weapons. At the moment we are facing a prospect that we did not see a final declaration in the NPT Review conference last year, there are country specific safeguards and favorable treatments which has ultimately weakened the already discriminatory NPR. He concluded by quoting that Non-proliferation means “disarming the unarmed and not disarming the armed”.
Lt. Col. (R) Nasir Hafeez (Director Academic, Policy & Program, SVI) presented his views on “South Asia and Strategic/Global Nuclear Order”. He started his presentation by explaining the strategic environment in South Asia and said that Pakistan does not recognize Indian supremacy whereas India does not recognizes the existence of Pakistan due to deeply ingrained historical grievances. In addition, Pakistan links nuclear weapons with its national security; however India has always viewed it as a symbol of status/prestige, but reliance on nuclear weapons has become a compulsion in South Asian security/strategic environment. Lt. Col. (R) Nasir said that nuclear order in south Asia is different from the cold war international nuclear order. The new nuclear weapon states of South Asia are dependent upon seeking more cooperation than confrontation. He explained with the help of statistical findings and facts that the Pakistani program is not by any means fastest growing. He cautioned that this kind of propaganda campaign is a deliberate effort to provide justification for large scale Indian investment in its military programs.
He concluded by saying that the issue of tactical weapons being introduced by Pakistan are meant for conflict prevention rather than escalation. The full spectrum is not a replacement of minimum credible deterrence rather an answer to the evolving threat perception. Regarding the threat of nuclear weapons falling into wrong hands, Col. (R) Nasir highlighted that India is more vulnerable to such kind of threats as compared to Pakistan. He recommended that Pakistan has to seriously focus on economic stability that will relieve it from foreign assistance and ultimate move from a compliant state to a more confident self reliant state.
At the end of the session III, Ambassador (R) Zamir Akram (Former Permanent Representative to CD/United Nations, Geneva) presented his keynote address and highlighted some commendable and significant observations. He reiterated that since the very first use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima Nagasaki, it was declared that warfare had entered in a new and qualitatively different phase. These weapons required totally different approach as nuclear technology can be used for both destructive and peaceful purposes, thus the major challenge posed to nuclear order was and is to find the balance.
Ambassador Zamir interpreted the international nuclear order as international nuclear disorder. He highlighted the challenges faced by international nuclear order and said that NWS are unwilling to abandon their reliance on nuclear weapons as a means to ensure their security and these states are also engaged in providing standard deterrence to some of their partners/allies around the world. He said Japan although is at the forefront in promoting nuclear disarmament but it will not give up on the standard deterrence against potential threats.
The keynote speaker opined that China would not allow India to enter the coveted group because this would affect its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. He said China is committed to ensuring that both India and Pakistan gain membership at the same time and Pakistanis appear to be convinced that India will not make it to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), despite having the support of the United States, and are relying on China to this end. He said “chances of India gaining entry into NSG are virtually nil”. Other than China, he said there are some countries that are upset by the “double standards” being shown in India’s case, and are calling for an approach based on criteria.
For a balanced nuclear order, Amb. (R) Akram suggested the resolution of political disputes, a reduction in the reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence, dialogue between nuclear weapon states on disarmament or controlling or containing nuclear arsenals, ending discriminatory policies followed by the US and other Western countries, and commitment to not building any more destabilizing weapons.The proceedings of each session were followed by an interactive discussion in which the participants raised a number of high quality questions regarding the issues covered in the respective sessions and were answered comprehensively by the concerned speakers.
Q. Mr. Asghar Ali, Editor Capitol News and a PhD scholar posed a question to Ms. Anum Riaz as to which of the strategy is a better option to deal with North Korea. Whether it should be isolated through sanctions or engaged diplomatically in order to find some workable solution with North Korea?
Ms. Anum replied by suggesting that a diplomatic and political measures should ideally be a better option to deal with North Korea. She opined that new parameters of negotiation should be adopted in order to ask North Korea to halt their missile program. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the great powers and some concessions on the lines of JCPO should be made in order to give incentives to North Korea and to improve the overall international security situation.
Mr. Khalid answered by saying that it has to be viewed in a bigger picture, the nuclear stance of North Korea and the future of NPR is important in this context because it is the wrong practices of NPT and NSS that have made it difficult to decide the direction in which these arrangements are heading. They are constantly being dictated by the vested interests of the great powers. However it is important to note that one cannot possibly isolate North Korea and pursue the NPR since North Korea is very much part of the international political system.
Q. Mr. Atique ur Rehman from NUML inquired whether Pakistan stands any chance with regards to NPR where the Iran like deal could be reached. If so, what would be the reasons and possibilities behind such an arrangement?Mr. Khalid answered that Pakistan has to look at its own national sovereignty at all times. In this regard the nuclear weapons are and should always remain the main choice for Pakistan in order to secure its national, regional and global interests.
Dr. Zafar replied that he does not really see any future for NPR as it has not worked for last 25 years and probably will not work in the future either. Also peace in Korean Peninsula through sanctions is not a practical course of action; instead it should and can only be resolved through political and diplomatic option.
Q. Mr. Malik Qasim from ISSI expressed his concerns that efforts of NPR so far have only caused damage to the international community through its biased policies, which particularly go against the interests of small states. He inquired about the ways and measures through which this weakness in NPR could be addressed.
Q. Ms. Nida Shahid from Quaid I Azam University asked if the current aggressive policies of North Korea are a result of its leader’s individual choice or is being supported by the government of North Korea at large. She further asked if this aggressive posture will change if there is a regime change in North Korea.
Q. Mr. Raja Hassan Ahsan, Lawyer and Policy Analyst, questioned that since the Soft power is an ever popular concept these days, is there a room for applying soft power diplomacy with regards to North Korea? He further asked as to why the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets continues to be a matter of concern for the US, as recently expressed by President Obama, and why has Pakistan been unable to mitigate and respond to such reports and concerns.
Dr. Zafar Khan stated that since North Korea does not have any clear declarations about its policies regarding the nuclear weapons, there can only be different assumptions and presumptions about it. He said he personally believes that North Korea must be having some policy and strategy to employ nuclear weapons in order to pursue its economic, political and military aims. North Korea might be following the policy of minimum deterrence. He stated that there are chances that with time they may become even more rational viewing their weapons more for deterrent purposes and not for the military purposes.
Mr. Khalid replied that characteristics like maneuvering and the double standards are part of international diplomacy. He suggested that we should be clear on our part, identify and prioritize our interests and stay consistent to them. The crude nature of international system is not going to change and we will always be pushed against such a system.
Ms. Anum stated that the role of personality and leadership is quite important in the international system. The current leader of North Korea is the youngest among the leaders and some of his policies can be interpreted as him trying to be taken seriously by the international community. So it may even be the deeper insecurities driving his aggressive actions.
Amb. Masood stated that so far nothing has worked in case of North Korea, neither negotiations nor sanctions. However one thing is clear that Pakistan wants peace in the Korean Peninsula. Pakistan has good relations with both North and South Korea and would like to keep a balance between the two.
Second Session (Q & A)
Q. Mr. Raja Hassan Ahsan, Lawyer and Policy Analyst asked a set of questions about the possible impact of Iranian nuclear deal on North Korea. He also asked if there is a solution to the North Korean problem, and what possible options does Pakistan have if India wins the NSG membership.
Q. Mr. Imran Iqbal, Research Associate, SVI, asked why Pakistan needs to give “India reference” in order to provide justification for its nuclear weapons.
Dr. Zafar Cheema said that Pakistan has the right to have nuclear weapons. It becomes even more justified if the adversary has them too as it gives a stronger rationale for such justification. However there is no possibility that the use or threat of use of these weapons could be legitimized. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it has only exhibited the peaceful usage of these weapons.
Amb. Zamir Akram while answering the question, what options Pakistan has if India succeeds in becoming NSG member, said it would definitely be disastrous however the chances for India getting the membership are quite bleak because China has made it clear that the only way India should get the membership is if Pakistan gets it too. There is a general realization that by accepting India as a member and leaving out Pakistan will have damaging impact. Moreover, there are a large number of states that have been protesting against the possibility of Indian membership in NSG. About North Korea he said that it is like a genie which cannot be put back in the bottle. So the preferred way of dealing with this genie is to address its underlying security concerns and manage them properly. He also expressed that he is not very hopeful about the future of NPT as it has already been in a state of complete disarray.
Dr. Cheema while replying to the question as to why Pakistan and China are cooperating in the nuclear energy field said that these two states have no other choice since India is being viewed by the West as an indispensible pivot in its Asia Pacific policy because the ultimate goal is to stop the Chinese economic expansion. That is why China and Pakistan are cooperating in every filed.
Q. Mr. Asghar Ali, PhD candidate from Preston University asked if there is a possibility of bilateral settlement between India and Pakistan without the involvement of a third party.
Q. Mr. Osama Khurshid asked that since the world order is undergoing a change, there are indicators of soft balancing which are fast emerging on the scene, will it have an effect on the nuclear order and what will be its future?
Col. Nasir Hafeez replied that the fundamental problem between India and Pakistan is that India wants to be accepted by Pakistan as a bigger and better neighbor while Pakistan expects that India should recognize Pakistan as an independent sovereign state. While the possibility of first one is quite bleak but other equation of India accepting Pakistan is and should be a possibility. Pakistan is a reality but India is always dismissive towards this fact. India does not even like being hyphenated with Pakistan. Ultimately it is all about the status quo where Pakistan is being seen and termed as the revisionist state specifically with regards to Kashmir. However it is important to keep in mind that Pakistan wants an agreed upon status quo to be re-established and settled.
Dr. Zafar Cheema stated that there is a reason as to why the soft balancing cannot work in India-Pakistan case. This is mainly because India and Pakistan haven’t advanced to that level of political maturity where they could deploy such techniques to resolve their issues. They do not have any arms control agreement with each other either. Both the states yet have to advance to that level.
Amb. Zamir Akram opined that the international community is engaged in the efforts to address the issue of nuclear weapons being acquired and proliferated e.g. the case of Marshall Islands. However there is a caveat that leaves open the door for the use of nuclear weapons which cannot be resolved through legal arrangements, and only diplomatic solution should be sought to deal with it.
Q. Mr. Tahir stated that the discriminatory attitude of the NPT and NPR and even UN has caused enough damage to the international community and asked what measures could be taken by the UN to do the damage control now?
Amb. Zamir Akram stated that the UN has no independent identity rather it does what its member states allows it to do. At the end of the day it is the NWS who have to decide and see that the international community has become so volatile and beyond their control that they need to take measures so the nuclear weapons do not pose threat to humanity. Right now the situation is that North Korea has got weapons which are in dangerous hands. These kinds of facts and incidents may bring some sanity among major powers. But recently, one major power has invested 1 trillion US dollars for the revamping of its nuclear weapons. The question arises who it is planning to use it against. Such trends are indicative of the fact that we are going in the wrong direction.
At the end, Mr. Ross Masood Hussain (SVI Chairperson) presented the rapporteur’s recommendations. He started by paying a tribute to the Executive Director of the institute for organizing a very successful conference on the topic at a right time along with appreciating all the presentations made by each of the speakers. He said that in the presentations special emphasize has been laid on the western attempts to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence capabilities, the discriminatory western technology transfers and in particular the US opposition for Pakistan’s development of long range missiles that are surely all designed in response to the Indian cold start doctrine. He notified that there must be some commendations made by both Pakistan and India with regards to President Obama’s comments in the last Nuclear Security Summit, where he pointedly asked them to work for the reduction of their nuclear arsenals and to review their nuclear doctrines.
He expressed his views on the North Korean session since he visited North Korea eleven times which opened him to a much wider exposure, he opined that in matters related to nuclear developments one must study the political aspects and analyze the motivations of North Korean leadership to acquire nuclear weapons. He said it is North Korea’s right to protect and safeguard its state from all possible threats and the concerns of its state’s security needs to be addressed.
He concluded by formulating few recommendation for the North Korean issue: 1) the solution to Korean peninsula matter is diplomatic engagement, 2) the resumption of six party talks, 3) resumption of peace treaty that is yet to be signed because any attempt by the DPRK to sign the treaty is rebuffed by the US saying it cannot be signed without the inclusion of China and South Korea. Resultantly the talks have been stalled, 4) the US and North Korea dialogue should be resumed, 5) there should not be provocative military maneuvers any more, 6) there should not be any sanctions, embargos, blockades and attempts of isolating North Korea. He strongly suggested diplomatic solution to the prevailing problem.
Vote of Thanks by Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema
After all the presentations by the learned speakers and interactive question/answer sessions, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema concluded the conference by profoundly thanking the entire august audience present in the house and said that their presence has made this conference a successful endeavor. He paid special thanks to the chief guest and expressed his appreciation to all the honorable speakers who presented their paper and enlightened the audience with their expertise on the subject. He extended his gratitude towards research and secretarial staff of the SVI for the hard work put into successfully conducting this one day conference. He also greatly admired and appreciated the help of collaborators and associations.
The proceeding of conference was covered in following leading newspapers. The links are mentioned below: