Authored by: Syeda Saiqa Bukhari
Edited by: S. Sadia Kazmi
STRATEGIC VISION INSTITUTE (SVI), ISLAMABAD
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized an In-house seminar on “Process and Structure of Non-Proliferation: NSG and CPPNM” on January 2, 2019.The seminar was chaired by Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, President/Executive Director, SVI. The guest speakers included Dr. Mansoor Ahmed (Senior Research Fellow, CISS & Associate with the Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center for Science and Information Affairs Commitment to Nuclear Safety and Security), Dr. Rizwan Naseer (Assistance Professor, International Relations Department of Humanities, COMSATS Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan), and Mr. Kamran Akhtar (Director General, Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs, MOFA).
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema formally inaugurated the session with a warm welcome to the participants and expressed gratitude for their attendance. He particularly was thankful to Mr. Pervaiz Butt, Lt. Gen. Khalid Naeem Lodhi, Dr. Zafar Ali, Lt. Gen. Syed M. Owais, Japanese Deputy Chief of the Mission Mr. Yusuke Shindo, Ambassador (R) Fauzia Nasreen, and Ambassador (R) Syed Hasan Javed for managing time from their busy schedules to take part in this discussion.
In his introductory remarks he stated that the entire process and structure of non-proliferation is part of international politics. As per his personal views he didn’t consider non-proliferation a norm because a norm is something standard which applies to everyone without discrimination or distinction. However, the politics of non-proliferation has essentially put the states into two categories; one, which has a sacred right to possess nuclear weapons, and the other category of states which doesn’t have the right to possess nuclear weapons.
He further went on to state that the structure and process of non-proliferation regime is being utilized by the great powers to serve their foreign and security policy interests. The regime was formulated and being solely used for this purpose. It all started back in 1960’s and 70’s when the present day five nuclear weapon states wanted to acquire nuclear weapons. With the passage of time they developed an over kill capacity and realized the need to go for strategic arms control. In addition to this, the NPT review conference of 2015 could not reach a consensus declaration primarily because of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada whichdidn’t want a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) to be endorsed in the Middle East solely to protect the interest of their regional ally i.e. the state of Israel. In doing so, the great powers ignored the interest of all other states thatare also their allies and friends. Furthermore, it is not just the interest of Israel; the very significant outcome is that after many years, no consensus statement was made by these countries in the review conference. The way the politics of non-proliferation is proceedings, it appears that nuclear weapon states may not again come up with the consensus statement by 2020. He stressed on the need for this regime to be thoroughly reviewed internationally by all the stakeholders including nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states to reformulate an effective instrument and process in which the nuclear weapons do not become a threat to the existence of peace, stability and security of certain states.
After his introductory remarks, Dr. Cheema handed over the session to the first speaker Dr. Mansoor Ahmed to present his views on “Politics of Non-Proliferation in South Asia: Regional and Extra Regional Factors”. Mr. Ahmed focused on the recent developments in India’s nuclear program that have an impact on its case of NSG membership especially in terms of the separation of civil and military nuclear activities. India is known to have been pursuing a long-term three-stage nuclear energy program for many decades which is essentially, at the first stage, planned to build a breed of heavy water power reactors that would generate Plutonium to fuel breeder reactors, and then it would build another breed of advanced heavy water reactor which could use extra oxide fuel especially Thorium.
At present, India has not been able to fully implement the second stage. It hasn’t even been able to commission its first prototype fast breeder reactor. The official Indian position has been that eight power reactors and the breeder program are outside the IAEA safeguards as part of India’s strategic stockpile. He was of the view that India will be keeping spent fuel Plutonium produced in these reactors, outside the IAEA Safeguards to be used as part of the second stage which is to fuel the breeder fleet. This was in fact accepted in 2008 as part of IAEA separation plan.
He further quoted an Indian official saying that ‘the pursuit of the close fuel cycle and the manner in which India goes about it further ensures the security of Indian nuclear materials. India is strictly observing the principle of reprocess to reuse whereby reprocessing of spent fuel and commissioning of fast reactors are being synchronized to preclude any buildup of Plutonium stockpile’.
In March 2018, the Indian department of atomic energy in response to the question about the status of the construction of nuclear power plant outside IAEA safeguards and the breeder reactors, submitted a statement that they had scaled down the projecting target from 63 Giga Watt of electricity to 24 Giga Watt to be produced by 2032 and 57 nuclear power plants projects were cancelled. Interestingly the only mention of a fast breeder reactor project was the one that was ongoing since many years i.e. the 500 megawatt prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam. Despite their statements in the five year plan, in which India talks about building another 5 to 6 breeder reactors, it is still not have been able to commission the first reactor.
He further said that about 16 tons of civil Plutonium is available ostensibly as a strategic stockpile for the breeder fleet. This entire stockpile or very large proportion of the stockpile can potentially be diverted to weapons use. The key to this is India’s ability to reprocess the spent fuel. India has four reprocessing plants which according to India’s ownstatements, are running on maximum capacity. India is adding another commercial processing plant with an expected projection of reprocessing capacity increasing to 2000 tons in the next decade as compared to the current capacity of 350 tons of heavy water per year.
He suggested that this issue needs to be taken up at the NSG because India has given a commitment that there will be clear separation of civil and military nuclear activities. No other state has such a large stockpile of civilian Plutonium outside the IAEA safeguard norsuch a large expanding processing and enrichment program.
India on its part continues to claim that it is essential to meet the requirement of Indian nuclear submarine. In reality the expansion is not only going to meet the requirements of 5 or 6 submarines but will allow India to have an access to about150 to 200 kg of weapons grade Uranium every year.
This raises an important question as to why India would want to utilize its unsafeguarded civil stockpile for weapon purposes. It shut down its salience reactor 2010 which was dedicated to producing weapon grade Plutonium. At present it only has one production reactor which is operational since 1985 and is producing 124 kg of weapon grade Plutonium every year. Other two reactors are under construction, but will take some time before they come online. Looking closely at the shifts in India’s strategic posture, its counter-valuestrategy is now shifted to counter-force strategy.
India’s official position remains to be massive retaliation and no first use but taken together these developments it is evident that India is preparing for nuclear war fighting, escalation dominance, and trying to achieve compliance during crisis.
Dr. Ahmed stated that Pakistan has never been in competition with India in terms of size, scope and efficiency of fissile material production capabilities. But these developments by India will affect the nature of the delicate strategic balance in South Asia. It is important that an informed debate about the proliferation concerns emanating from these developments should be highlighted at the right forums and diplomatic efforts need to be launched with like-minded countries so that theproliferation threat on the horizon is suitably addressed at the diplomatic level. The fact that India is talking of preemptive strikes and counter force measures reflects India’s mindset where it believes that it can protect its cities and command centers with its missile defenses and can deal with Pakistan’s short range counterforce system; both ballistic and cruise missile. It also alludes to the fact that this thinking might compel India to take the risk of launching some kind of limited war against Pakistan. All these things are interconnected and need to be looked at in the holistic manner.
After comprehensive presentation by Dr. Mansoor Ahmed, the second speaker Dr. Rizwan Naseer expressed his views on the ‘Adherence to CPPNM: Pakistan’s Commitment to Nuclear Safety and Security’. Dr. Rizwan Naseer maintained that Pakistan is strongly committed to the objective of nuclear security and has been proactively engaged with the international community to promote nuclear safety and security. It has ensured that nuclear and radioactive materials and all related facilities are secured in safe places. He further said that Pakistan’s nuclear security regime is based on national legislative, regulatory and administrative framework. The elements of nuclear security in Pakistan include robust command and control system led by the National Command Authority (NCA), rigorous regulatory regime, comprehensive export controls and international cooperation.
He was of the view that the Convention and the Amendment of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) are the only legally binding international instruments in the area of physical protection of nuclear material. As per the Amendment, states parties are bound to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport. It also provides for expanded cooperation between and among states regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences.
He mentioned that Pakistan has ratified the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM, which is a reaffirmation of Pakistan’s commitment to the objective of nuclear security and reinforces Pakistan’s credentials as a responsible nuclear state. It demonstrates Pakistan’s confidence in its national nuclear security regime which is at par with the latest international standards in the field.
In addition to the CPPNM, Pakistan is a state party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety and has an elaborate legal framework to ensure implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution-1540 (UNSCR-1540). According to the 1540 Committee, “Pakistan has rendered technical assistance to member states under the auspices of the IAEA’s technical assistance and technical cooperation programs. Furthermore, all safeguarded facilities are inspected regularly by IAEA inspectors and thus far there is no deviation from laid down procedures. Continuous threat appraisal and institutional reviews are also conducted to upgrade response mechanism.
Additionally, he quoted the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report (RL-31589) on Nuclear Threat Reduction Measures for India and Pakistan which observes that “Fissile material components (pits) are thought to be kept separately from the rest of the warhead”. Such a physical separation helps deter unauthorized use and complicates theft. He stated that since the last quarter of 2006, the PNRA has also initiated five year Nuclear Security Action Plan (NSAP) to establish a more robust nuclear security regime. Moreover, in September 2004, Islamabad adopted new national export controls legislation which includes a requirement that the government should issue control list for “goods, technologies, material, and equipment which may contribute to designing, development, stockpiling, *and+ use” of nuclear weapons and related delivery systems. He said that according to Director of Pakistan’s Strategic Export Controls Division (SECDIV), the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process has contributed to improving nuclear security by raising greater awareness about it. Nuclear security is a national responsibility. Effective measures taken at the national level contribute to nuclear security internationally. In line with the commitment made during the 2014 NSS, Pakistan has ratified the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM. This is a reaffirmation of Pakistan’s confidence in its national nuclear security regime, which is consistent with the contemporary international standard.
Furthermore, Pakistan has established Pakistan Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS), where training is imparted in various nuclear security disciplines including physical protection and personnel reliability. The center undertakes training activities in collaboration with National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS). These training facilities continue to grow into a regional and international hub, with support from the IAEA. Pakistan’s export control regime is at par with the standards followed by Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and Australia Group (AG). He also discussed the NTI index concerns about India’s lack of attention to the issue of “insider threats,” and Pakistan’s proper mechanism for personnel reliability. Mr. Naseer stated that no Uranium theft incident is reported in Pakistan but has been witnessed in other developed and developing countries including India and the US. He quoted various examples in this regard including: the Apollo Affair(US) 1965, HEU was captured from thieves in Moldova, Italy arrested 10 men with stolen Uranium from Democratic Republic of Congo (July 1999), Uranium theft incident in India (July, 2018), HEU is for sale in Georgian Black Market (Nov, 2010), two security experts of Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory lost Plutonium (July, 2018), and Belgian incident in which worker was shot dead and his pass was stolen.
He stressed upon the need for a regional symposium for regional cooperation (cooperation through CBMs). He further suggested that regional stakeholders need to do more for regional security. Proactive diplomacy to highlight Pakistan’s measures in the eyes of international community will also facilitate Pakistan’s entry into the NSG.
Third Speaker Mr. Kamran Akhtar provided ‘An overview of India-Pakistan Membership and Politics of the NSG’. He shared his views on the non-proliferation regime being essentially “unfair” and having “discriminatory” elements such as the NPT. However, he did acknowledge that non-proliferation regime is primarily meant to keep order and not to provide justice. In so far as it provides order, which can ensure security and regional stability for Pakistan, Pakistan should contribute to the regime and be committed to follow those norms of the regime to which it subscribes.
Referring to Dr. Mansoor Ahmed’s comment about Pakistan’s policy on FMCT, and India’s exponentially growing capability to produce fissile material, Mr. Akhtar mentioned that Pakistan is not in an arm race with India. Pakistan is not bothered about how much fissile material India will amass. India is welcome to amass three thousand tons of fissile material. But more than Pakistan, the Indian stockpile should be a matter of worry for those countries that would eventually fall into the target range of India. These are the same countries that are extending preferential treatment to India and creating exemptions for it. For India only may be 5 tons would be enough to eliminate Pakistan. Hence the massively increasing stockpiles should be alarming in terms of its outreach in Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile. The excess fissile material strength will enable India to project its power at global level. It is to bear in mind that India was always status driven right from the beginning when Homi Bahaba wrote to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that India should be going for nuclear weapon at the time when China as a nuclear weapon threat was not even there. Contrary to this, Pakistan did not develop nuclear weapons for status projection at a global level. Till the time Pakistan is not sure of establishing deterrence credibility vis-à-vis growing Indian nuclear program, it should not stop as the Indian capacity to produce fissile material is growing exponentially.
While discussing the current developments and politics surrounding the NSG, he mentioned that in 2016 India applied for the NSG membership with the support of US. This might have made India believe that it would be an open and shut case and soon after applying for the membership it will be given entry into the NSG. However, much to its surprise, India had to and is still facing resistance not only from the NSG member states but also from Pakistan. He lamented that in 2008, Pakistan did not put up a strong case against India and did not try to complicate India’s case, as a result of which India was able to get exemption. This time round Pakistan also applied for the NSG membership, but it is not essentially in response to the Indian application. The fact of the matter is that it was back in 2012when Pakistan officially expressed its inclination for the NSG membership to the visiting NSG delegation. This clearly implies that Pakistan had been preparing since long on the NSG membership application. Therefore, when India applied for the NSG membership in 2016, it was within one week that Pakistan was able to apply too because it had already done the necessary homework. Hence, Pakistan’s application is by no means a reaction to Indian application.
He highlighted three existing views within the NSG cartel with regards to India’s membership. One viewpoint holds that India by virtue of 2008 exemption has already undertaken a lot of proliferation commitment so it qualifies for the NSG membership and it should be admitted without any further scrutiny. This is the view of India and its supporter states such as the US. The second view point primarily being voiced by China maintains that for a country to be a member of the NSG, it has to sign the NPT. This is another extreme point of view but a legally correct position. The third viewpoint shared by many European countries holds that there should be criteria based approach towards membership and when a state meets those criteria only then it should be given the membership. China insists on holding a debate within the NSG on legal, technical and political aspects of membership of non-NPT countries.
Mr. Kmaran Akhtar pointed out various anomalies in India’s case for the NSG at technical, political and legal level. At the technical level India boasts of a clean separation plan between civilian and military nuclear facilities which in fact is not true. The Indian separation plan was accompanied by a statement where India clearly mentioned that it will only declare those facilities under the IAEA safeguards which are no longer engaged in activities of strategic significance. It uses the same argument to keep eight civilian power generation reactors outside the IAEA safeguards. These reactors not dedicated to the production of military grade Plutonium but are still kept outside the IAEA safeguards. So, if a civilian reactor, embroiled in doubts about its military significance, is not placed under the IAEA safeguards then how can it be called a separation?
Similarly India has a reactor grade Plutonium with 16 tons capacity outside of the IAEA safeguards. Yet India claims that it is for civilian nuclear program. He suggested that it is important that these issues be highlighted whenever India’s case for the NSG membership is discussed. These technical anomalies make India’s case very weak. In addition to this, India’s IAEA safeguard agreement has a provision that it can substitute unsafeguarded reactor grade Plutonium with safeguarded weapons grade Plutonium. This means that if some quantity of weapons grade Plutonium around 5kg is taken from the safeguarded reserves, it can be utilized to put into the breeder reactor to breed around 15kg Plutonium. Even if the initial 5kg Plutonium is put back in the reserves, India can still have 10kg weapon grade Plutonium which can be used for nuclear program. In essence, India will get weapon grade Plutonium in return for reactor grade Plutonium which is eventually beneficial for its nuclear weapon programs. This technical issue also has to be resolved. So, by virtue of foreign supplied nuclear material, India can produce material for its military nuclear program without any restriction. These issues have to be discussed.
On nuclear testing, the NSG guidelines says that if any country conducts a nuclear explosion then all the fuel supplies to that country should be seized. But India has this clause in its 123 agreement with the US that it will facilitate India to build up astrategic reserve of fuel for uninterrupted fuel supply for its civilian program. In this case, if India isable to build a strategic reserve of fuel with the help of supplies from the international community, it can anytime go for the option of explosion. By virtue of this agreement, India will still be having sufficient reserves even if the supply is cut off in the aftermath of the explosion. There is a need to address all these issues, without which any discussion on the technical aspect of the NSG membership cannot be fully exhausted.
Talking about the legal front, he mentioned that the non-NPT states do not have a legally binding commitment on disarmament. While Pakistan is committed to the objective of disarmament, it is not a legally binding commitment by virtue of clause 6 of NPT. This issue needs to be resolved too. In addition to this, the NPT recognizes five countries as nuclear weapons states and all others as non-nuclear weapon states. This raises a pertinent question that if a non-NPT state is allowed to enter into the NSG, would it automatically get a legaldejure recognition as a nuclear weapon state or not. He again stressed that these are the issues which the NSG should first resolve before there can be an agreement on the membership case of the non-NPT states.
Finally from the political point of view, if non-NPT states are admitted to the NSG, it will be a severe blow to the credibility of the non-proliferation regime. Following a non-discriminatory criteria will help enhance credibility of the NSG as a rule based organization. But if India is exempted from any standard rule regarding its membership, such an approach will seriously undermine the credibility of the regime as driven by commercial and political considerations.
Mr. Kamran Akhtar suggested that the countries should be signing the NPT in order to be eligible for the NSG membership. Pakistan supports criteria based approach and feels the responsibility to highlight these flaws especially because those countries which granted exemption to India, conveniently overlook these issues despite being highlighted globally at many occasions. He pointed outthat it is in the interest of Pakistan to subscribe to the regime because it is ensuring peace and stability in the region.
Pakistan must take easy normative steps so that when the NSG comes up with some criteria, Pakistan should have sufficiently made its case stronger with better preparation. In addition to this Pakistan should be confident enough as a nuclear weapon state and realize that these conventions are not meant to just take away Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. In fact Pakistan already has faith in these convention as is evident from the fact that it signed the nuclear safety convention before India did in the late 1990’s and enhanced its nuclear credentials.
He further stated that Pakistan established the Pakistan Nuclear Regularity Authority (PNRA) which is internationally recognized as a good example of an independent regulatory authority. As a result of such measures by Pakistan many of the fears regarding safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear program have vanished from the debate as they are no more alarming.
Resultantly Pakistan’s contribution and role in the IAEA technical assistance program has grown. He added that Pakistan should be brave in terms of asserting its right to take commercial advantage from their dual use technologies and industries. Pakistan should be willing to export high vacuum pumps and other materials which are required at the international level under strong international IAEA safeguard and non-proliferation guarantees. He maintained that the non-proliferation regime is conceptually built on wrong foundation and needs to be reformed. In this regard Pakistan is cooperating with the non-proliferation regime and is making suggestions in a way that it can be improved from its present defective structure.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema concluded the discussion by saying that international politics is dominated by Realist paradigm. There is no such thing as merit in international politics. The primacy is of national interest as was rightly mentioned by the father of the Realist paradigm Hans Morgenthau. States negotiate and interact with each other primarily in order to promote their national interest. He advocated Pakistan’s stance on not signing the FMCT unilaterally unless the deterrent requirements are met. After his remarks, Dr. Cheema opened the floor for Question & Answer session.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema asked Whether India will change its official nuclear doctrine or not? In response, Dr. Ahmad said that India is already manipulating the available flexibility in their doctrine by stating its ambitions to add counterforce options to their counter value and massive retaliation strategies. So it is the question of capabilities, once they have achieved aspired technologies then they will do what they want to do.
Ambassador Syed Hasan Javed commented that states operate in realistic world and states don’t compromise on their self-interest. Any unilateral attempt by Pakistan to prove itself as a good state deteriorates its position at international level. He suggested that the best option for Pakistan is to fight its case in the NSG.
Dr. Zafar Ali (SECDIV, MOFA) shared his thoughts about the scenario and developments that have taken place over the past two years. He said that presently India is at the advantageous position by becoming part of three other export control regimes such as Wassenaar Arrangement, Missile Technology Control Regime and Australia Group. This development is often cited by India to supplement its case for the NSG membership.
Mr. Muhammad Ali (Researcher at CISS) asked how should Pakistan convince the NSG member statesfor its credentials to be admitted to the NSGand if that is in theirinterest or not? Mr. Akhtar replied Pakistan is one of those countries which have nuclear power plants and is manufacturing repair accessories for a long time. Along with that Pakistan is one of those 30 countries who are producing dual use nuclear materials, which is in the interest of the NSG members, especially when Pakistan not only possessessupply capabilities but can also export all these dual use items.
Mr. Husham Ahmed (Director Arms Control & Disarmament-I) complemented to Mr. Kamran Akhtar that it is in theinterest of other NSG members to have those countries who are producing dual use nuclear materials like Pakistan inside the NSG. He suggested that Pakistan should try to maximize the commercial gains from dual use technologies while abiding by international non-proliferation guidelines.
Mr. Khalid Banuri (former Director General ACDA, SPD) stated that in the backdrop of India’s inclusion in international system Pakistan has to create delays in whatever way will be useful for Pakistan till the time it becomes politically viable in the international system. To this end, what Pakistan lacks is well thoughtout input from its policy institutions to move ahead and to achieve some progress in terms of viable and feasible policy options. Research institutions are resuired to carry out in depth invistigation of the subjecct matter and provide the government with sound policy proposals. Dr. Anjum Sarfarz (Senior Research Fellow, SVI) asked as to how much economic advantage Pakistan will get after becoming the member of the NSG? Mr. Akhtar replied that Pakistan will not only get commercial advantage from the NSG membership but will become more relevant by being in the decision making process of Nuclear Suppliers Group. Pakistan can also project itself as a supplier and service provider state while providing assistance to other states in the maintenance of their nuclear power reactor.
Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi (Former Defence Secretary) asked how CPPNM is legally binding and what it says about punishing those who violate its provisions? Dr. Naseer replied if a country breaches the agreement it will have to face isolation and strict sanctions.
Mr. Atiq ur Rehman (Assistant Professor, IR Department, NUML) asked after signing convention on non-proliferation, how Pakistan is pursuing its interest at the regional and extra regional level? Mr. Akhtar answered that signing the convention on non-proliferation issue has help Pakistan. Pakistan has been engaged with the IAEA. Pakistan has upgraded its nuclear security standers and Pakistan is beneficiary of it.
Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen highlighted the issue of hostile geo-political and regional environment in which Pakistan has to strive for its interests especially when India is being continuously favored by the US. She suggested that in order to improve its current predicament Pakistan must improve its diplomatic relations with the international community. She suggested that diplomacy can be one important tool for Pakistan in improving its credentials to achieve the NSG membership and improve its perception in international system.
Ms. Nida Shahid (IRA, ACDA) asked what exactly is Pakistan’s intention towards the NSG membership, whether it wants complicate India’s case or actually intends to get into the NSG? Mr. Akhtar replied that Pakistan’s case of the NSG membership is not motivated by any temptation to resist Indian admission into the NSG rather Pakistan advocates and supports principled stance of criteria based approach to the non NPT members. Pakistan is adherent to the non-proliferation norms so it should be allowed the NSG membership.
In the end Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema thanked all the worthy participants for their valuable input on the topic.
Media proceedings of the In-house seminar were published by the local Newspaper: