Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized a one day seminar on the topic titled “Nuclear Security Summits till 2016: An Analytical Review” held on February 25, 2016 at the SVI premises. Two guest speakers Brigadier Zahir ul Haider Kazmi, Director Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs (ACDA), and Lt. Colonel (R) Nasir Hafeez, Lecturer Strategic and Nuclear Studies; National Defense University, were invited to assess the achievements of three previous Nuclear Security Summits since 2009 and to discuss its future prospects in the wake of fourth and most likely the final forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), slated to be held from March 31 to April 01 in Washington, DC. The discussion was chaired by Ambassador (R) Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s Former Permanent Representative to the United Nations office, Geneva.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, President SVI, welcomed and offered his thanks to the worthy Chair, Speakers and participants for affording valuable time out of their busy schedule and gracing the occasion with their presence. He said that no one is more qualified than these three distinguished guests to look professionally into the important event of forthcoming NSS, as Premiers of both Pakistan and India are attending it and few significant developments are expected to take place. In his welcome remarks, Dr. Cheema shed light on the recent report of Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) where Pakistan has been ranked at 22nd position while India is ranked at 21st with regards to nuclear theft material category.He expressed his surprise over the stated low ranking of Pakistan and questioned the credibility of NTI report by highlighting that ranking is incompatible with Pakistan’s nuclear reality especially because not an ounce of Pakistan’s fissile material is unaccounted. On sabotage ranking he said that it is difficult to empirically measure how effective the material control is unless theft or sabotage is reported. Not a single incident of this nature has ever been reported in Pakistan. By quoting that India’s improved ranking in the NTI index states is due to its participation “in bilateral assistance activities with the United States and putting in place the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Additional Protocol”, Dr. Cheema said that the report has clear biases against Pakistan
while India has been taken softly. While discussing the 2016 NSS, he opined that the country’s participation in the summits helped in improving “its image and interaction with the international community”.
After introducing the title and subject, Dr. Cheema, invited the speakers to deliberate on the topic. The first speaker, Brig. Zahir Kazmi started his speech by appreciating SVI for always conducting timely debates on current issues. Speaking on the topic “Nuclear Security Summits: An Assessment since 2009”, he referred to the recent statement of National Command Authority (NCA) that carried a reference of deep satisfaction about Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security measures and another regarding the NSS process for which NCA members were briefed. He recalled that in Prague speech of 5th April 2009, President Obama announced that the U.S. would host a Global Summit on Nuclear Security as a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the globe within four years. Brig. Kazmi observed that this ambitious goal was not fully achieved by March 2014; however, the NSS process has a few feathers in its cap. He recounted that along with other developments, four major achievements under NSS belt were: 1) Russia gave some 500 MT of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) out of its nuclear arsenal (20,000 warheads’ worth) to America, which was down-blended for electricity generation; 2) Twelve countries had completely eliminated HEU or separated Plutonium from within their borders; 3) Twenty-seven countries removed or disposed off nearly 3000 KGs or HEU and separated Plutonium; 4) Twenty-four HEU nuclear reactors in fourteen countries were successfully converted to LEU fuel use or verified as shut down.
He highlighted in the Prague speech that President Obama made his Nobel Peace Prize Winning promise of Nuclear Zero, cautioning that the nuclear disarmament goal would not be reached quickly – perhaps not in his lifetime. Therefore, securing some of the unsecured nuclear material across the globe is one of the half-measures towards general and complete disarmament. He further said that the Nuclear Security Summit process has survived two presidential terms and will become part of President Obama’s legacy. Three Summits have been held so far –Washington in 2010, Seoul 2012 and The Hague in 2014. He opined “like the Salmonid life cycle, NSS is returning to the rivers where it was hatched. But unlike a salmon it would only lay some eggs that would not breed as the fish do”
Brig. Kazmi offered an assessment of the NSS process by a) first narrating its core principles; b) then walking through the salient outcomes of the summits; c) giving a rundown of Pakistan’s participation, d) and finally by offering six-point critique about the process. In this vein, he described that NSS process has seven core principles: One – Its commitments are political and voluntary in nature. Two – nuclear security remains fundamentally a national responsibility. Three – It only covers security of civilian nuclear material. Four – It seeks national-level implementation, which is consistent with national laws and respective international obligations. Five – If requested, it offers facilitation in national action through international cooperation. Six – It does not seek any parallel or new initiatives. IAEA plays central and leading role in taking forward these commitments. Seven – It seeks no formal reporting of progress on commitments, states indicate progress through national statement.
On the the salient outcomes of the summits, he explained that the focus of the first 2010 summit held at Washington D.C. was to secure nuclear materials and radiological substances in order to prevent these from falling into the hands of terrorists. The summit adopted a Communiqué and a Work Plan, whereas the subsequent summits only adopted communiqués in 2012 and 2014. He elaborated that Communiqué is a consensus document while the Work Plan is a guidance document explicating future steps. About the second NSS in 2012, he said it was held in Seoul in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident and focused on the need for tackling nuclear security and nuclear safety in a “coherent manner”, thus blurring the distinction between the two. A great deal of attention was paid to securing HEU and separated plutonium. During Seoul Summit in 2012, Brig. Kazmi talked about the Gift Basket Diplomacy. He described it as a plurilateral diplomatic initiative in which usually a small group of states voluntarily collaborates on those nuclear security issues on which general consensus is not possible for issuing a Summit Communiqué. Joint statements also pronounce gift baskets. He said that thirteen Gift Baskets were adopted in 2012. Gift Basket initiatives give discretion to the states to subscribe explicitly to the additional elements of a nuclear security regime and to commit to the effective and sustainable implementation of the principles therein. Moreover while speaking about the Third NSS held at The Hague, he highlighted, that it dealt with topics like strengthening of the international nuclear security architecture, enhancing the role of the IAEA, safety of nuclear materials, and several other areas. During The Hague Summit, a scenario-based policy discussion was held at the leadership level and fourteen Gift Baskets were adopted in 2014. As a routine feature, Industry and Knowledge Summits have also been held on the sidelines of the NSS. On fourth and final NSS, Dr. Kazmi stated that the agenda of this summit is to assess the progress made on the goals identified in the previous three summits. This time around apart from a communiqué, the final documents of the NSS 2016 will also include some additional papers.
He further added that the pillars of nuclear security regime have few common features, some of which are: a) well defined National Command and Control system, b) Multi-layered defense guided by the concept of deter, detect, delay, defend and destroy – the Five Ds, c) Rigorous regulatory regime (PNRA), d) Comprehensive export control regime at par with the international standards, e) Implementation of NSAP in cooperation with IAEA, and f) Commitments to UNSCR 1540 and GICNT.
He reflected Pakistan’s participation in the NSS process as a responsible partner in the global nuclear order that shares best practices. Brig. Kazmi also presented an overview of Pakistan’s engagements in the summits and some salient points of the national statements and the PM Nawaz Sharif’s comments during these Summits. He stated that Pakistan joined a Gift Basket initiative on Nuclear Security Training and Support Centers and offered its Centre of Excellence at the regional and international level as a training hub during The Seoul and The Hague Summits. The Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) led Pakistani delegations for the Industry Summits and some Pakistani academics – including Professor Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema – have participated in the Knowledge Summits.
In addition, he said, Pakistan has offered to provide nuclear fuel cycle services under IAEA safeguards, expressed its readiness to participate in any non-discriminatory nuclear fuel cycle assurance mechanism (in 2010), Deployed Radiation Portal Monitors at border points and offered Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) as the regional/international hub for nuclear security training (2012) and established NEMS at national level to handle nuclear/radiological emergencies (2014).
He highlighted the remarks made by PM during the Summits since inception of the process. He recounted that in 2010, while talking about the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism, PM Nawaz Sharif hinted at the possibility of nuclear terrorism which is a global threat and necessitates a national action by all the states. He flagged the need to avoid overly alarmist approach by having a realistic assessment of the threat. Furthermore, he pointed out that the threat of radiological terrorism is more general and not specific to Nuclear Weapon States (NWS). PM stressed that nuclear security of the state is an entirely national responsibility, thus he suggested reinforcement of existing arrangements rather than creating new or parallel mechanisms. On the notion of national action to secure nuclear materials, the PM made three points: a). As NWS, Pakistan takes its nuclear security responsibility seriously, b). Nuclear safety and security is based on multiple layers and defense in depth, c) and reiterated that Pakistan’s Export control laws are at par with international standards.
Talking about the 2012 Summit, Brig. Kazmi mentioned that PM offered Pakistan’s CoE – now called Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) – as a regional and international hub for training. In collaboration with IAEA, PCENS has been running courses for around eight countries for sharing its best practices.
He further elaborated about the last summit at The Hague where the PM emphasized that states cannot hold summits perpetually. He desired maintaining political will and advance agenda of nuclear security in years to come. PM further said that Pakistan was considering ratification of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Amended).
Brig. Kazmi recalled that in recent NCA meeting that was held on February 24, 2016, the details of inter-agency process to ratify the CPPNM Amended were also presented. The NCA gave approval in principle for its ratification. After explaining Pakistan’s contribution, he reiterated that Pakistan qualifies for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and other export control arrangements. That is a pitch repeated in 2014 and has echoed in the NCA meeting held lately.
In the end the speaker offered six-point critique of NSS process. He observed that the NSS process has drawn varying criticisms from state parties as well as from analysts all over the world. First, the biggest criticism regarding the process is that it is equivalent to setting up an unnecessary parallel to the already existing international norms and organizations, whose mandate is to assist states in enhancing their safety and security credentials. Second major proposition is that the safety and security of nuclear materials remains the sole responsibility of a state in which the material resides. There have been attempts by the international community to give support to a state in securing that material without dictating policies or monitoring the progress. The bottom line is that nuclear safety and security is national responsibility in which others cannot infringe. Thirdly, since the NSS process is the initiative of one country, there have been reservations amongst the participating states regarding the submission of reports at the NSS meetings. There is no eagerness for reporting any progress on nuclear security to another country. This is why NSS remains a voluntary platform and participating states prefer to give a national statement instead of reports. Fourth point that he elaborated was about the ambitious goals of NSS. The goals set at the launch of initiative were too ambitious to be completed in the four-year time period. Although the U.S. insists that the progress seen in the safety and security of nuclear materials around the world is owing to the NSS process, some experts are of the view that most of it would have otherwise happened under the aegis of IAEA. States and international organizations were conscious of the issues set as NSS agenda and were already moving towards these goals. Fifth critique about NSS is that it is seen as a mechanism designed to contribute to Presidential Legacy. The sixth and final point he made was about the future actions after the concluding summit. He said that in the run up to the summit, the internal working of NSS is not an open source information.
In the final remarks, the speaker suggested that the concluding summit should suggest future line of action to the other organizations regarding the nuclear security. He expressed concern that some countries (such as Russia) do not participate in the NSS. Likewise, some of the participating countries in the NSS are not member of other organizations and might be out of place in suggesting a course of action for these organizations.
Brig. Kazmi concluded his speech by saying that overall NSS is a success and a win-win story. The NSS commitments remain political and voluntary in nature, nuclear security remains fundamentally national security and as a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan will continue to contribute meaningfully towards the global efforts to improve nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation measures. Therefore in the larger interest of global non-proliferation regime, Pakistan should be included as participant in the export control arrangement like NSG.
The next guest speaker, Col. (R) Nasir Hafeez presented a discourse analysis on the topic “Nuclear Security Summits: Achievements and Future Prospects”. He started with quoting remarks by the US President Obama at the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit, The Hague, The Netherlands, March 25, 2014;
“Next summit will be a transition summit in which heads of state and government are still participating, but we are shifting towards a more sustainable model that utilizes our ministers, our technical people, and we are building some sort of architecture that can effectively focus and implement on these issues and supplement the good work that is being done by the IAEA and others. Two tasks before us over the next two years; 1) set very clearly what are the actionable items that we have already identified that we know can get done if we have the political will to do them. 2) Ultimate architecture beyond 2016 to keep this process alive and effective, and sync up the efforts of the Nuclear Security Summit with existing institutions like the IAEA, Interpol, the United Nations, some of the treaties that are already in force. Well thought-out process that can be ratified at that meeting.”
Discussing the expectations regarding Nuclear Security Summit 2016, Col. (R) Nasir referred to the statement by the White House Press Secretary about the forthcoming summit that hints at the discussion on the evolving threat and highlights the steps that can be taken together to minimize the use of highly-enriched uranium, secure vulnerable materials, counter nuclear smuggling and deter, detect, and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism. He continued adding that the United States seeks a strengthened global nuclear security architecture that is comprehensive, based on international standards, builds confidence in nations’ nuclear security implementation and results in declining global stocks of nuclear weapons-usable materials.
Elaborating on the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), Col. (R) Nasir explained that it is a non-governmental coalition of 80 civil society organizations from around the world that is working to provide actionable policy solutions to keep the world safe from nuclear terrorism. On the achievements of FMWG, he mentioned that the FMWG is organizing the fourth civil society summit: ‘Solutions for a Secure Nuclear Future’, to support the 2016 NSS. It also created three ‘Policy Development Working Groups’ that developed recommendations on the elimination of civilian HEU, addressing military nuclear materials, information-sharing, standards and best practices, and security culture. Later, the FMWG published a joint recommendations report that summarized the key policy proposals from all the three groups. The publication of its consensus recommendations to the Obama administration for improving nuclear material security (September 2009), helped in the updation of recommendations to the world leaders before the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit (January 2012), and presented a new list of 8 recommendations (October 2013) that includes a plutonium policy recommendation (March 2013). The eight recommendations include:
1. Launching of a “Next-Generation Nuclear Security Initiative.”
2. Accelerating efforts to secure and eliminate highly enriched uranium (HEU), plutonium, and nuclear weapon stockpiles.
3. Implementing the Obama administration policy of minimizing HEU.
4. Requesting and aggressively pursuing sufficient funding for removing and securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world.
5. Extending and expanding the G-8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.
6. Enhancing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s role in promoting global nuclear security.
7. Strengthening the nuclear security regime through a framework convention that institutionalizes comprehensive standards of performance and responsibility.
8. Five recommendations to secure plutonium stocks and reduce their use.
He appreciated Pakistan for raising voice in support of the idea that the nuclear security within a state is a national responsibility. Since the fundamental responsibility lies with the state, it is not feasible for the third party to easily get an access, irrespective of their national or international obligation. Col. (R) Nasir while talking about the national statements from Pakistan, reiterated that Pakistan has time and again talked about fostering ‘Nuclear security culture’, although Pakistan’s understanding of culture is quite different from that of the West, and Pakistan may not necessarily have acceptance for the Western culture, just as they might not have for Pakistani culture. He endorsed Pakistan’s position and mentioned that we have revisited our safety parameters, emergency preparedness and response, and operators’ training. He added that Pakistan’s pillars of nuclear security regime include command and control system, regulatory system, export control regime and international cooperation.
He further opined that Pakistan has started to show cooperation on nuclear security through voluntary national actions, thus there should not be any binding parameters on us. Pakistan has more than 40 years of experience in safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants under IAEA safeguards and qualifies to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other export control regimes, on a non-discriminatory basis.
He concluded by saying that it is the final summit of the series and its outcomes are critical to the future of the global nuclear security system. Pakistan needs to be prepared for architecture that is expected to be presented for approval in NSS 2016. He talked about the limits of a U.S. president’s ability to shape a global nuclear order amid competing tugs from foreign competitors and allies, domestic politics and bureaucratic factions. He mentioned about the American leadership role in nuclear governance operating at three tiers; Government level – ministers and officials, NGO – think-tank experts and Industry- scientist and technician and investors.
After the discussion by the two guest speakers, Dr. Cheema invited Ambassador (R) Zamir Akram to present his keynote address on the issue. He opined that the conclusion of the upcoming fourth and the last summit, puts an end to the process that emerged from US President Barack Obama’s speech in Prague in 2009, in which he stressed upon securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the globe. He said that now the focus has been on how this effort can be continued afterwards. “The 2016 Summit Declaration” and the action plans for future work by the UN, International Atomic Energy Agency, Interpol and the “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction” are the measures that are owned by the state, voluntarily, without any enforcement machinery and without any reporting requirement.” He said these elements would prove to be an essential feature of the outcomes of the last NSS.
He further said that a perception is deliberately being promoted in the West, maintaining that the most vulnerable country in this context is Pakistan. However this concern was questionable because they were already in negotiations and cooperation with us on nuclear security. These kinds of acquisition were meant as an excuse to justify taking control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
He hoped that the last of the Nuclear Security Summits (NSS), being held in Washington next month, will be succeeded by informal networks, while the participating states will voluntarily implement the commitments made by them. Pakistan has consistently insisted that nuclear security is fundamentally a national responsibility and fulfillment of commitments should be voluntary.
“Many countries were not in favour of continuing this summit process and were also opposed to any kind of follow-up action.” But as a compromise the follow-up action would be a voluntary responsibility at the national level, he said, adding that absence of key players like Russia, Iran and North Korea, the last two of which were deliberately kept out, raised questions about the reliability of the process on nuclear security.
About Pakistan’s participation in the process, Mr Akram said it was a good decision as it helped to neutralize or balance out the efforts that could have specifically targeted the country on the pretext of nuclear security. He further said that the positive outcome was the fact that President Obama had to publically state that he has the confidence in Pakistan’s capability to safeguard its nuclear arsenals, as opposed to what media and American officials were leaking.
“We were particularly successful in emphasizing that the process has to be voluntary; should cover only the civilian programme; and that there should be no international mechanism involved in enforcing a nuclear security order. The summits process helped Pakistan highlight its achievements and the measures taken for greater security,” he concluded.
The In-House Seminar was attended by members of academia, think tank representatives, retired Generals and ambassadors, media personals and students of various local universities. An interactive and stimulating question and answer session and debate on the issues discussed followed Amb. Akram’s address. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema concluded the In-House Seminar by profoundly thanking the august audience and mentioned that their presence made this seminar a successful endeavor. He offered special thanks to the guest speaker and expressed his appreciation to all the guests for actively participating and making the discussion interactive.