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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

US nonsense on Pak nuclear issue

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Nothing can be as demeaning as Prime Minister Gilani’s declaration that Pakistan would abide by “US sanctions on Iran.” While UN sanctions under Chapter VII are obligatory for all member states, why should Gilani lay the country prostrate before the US? And this at a time when we are being cornered on all fronts, especially the nuclear, by this “ally”!
China and Pakistan have been cooperating in the field of civilian nuclear technology for many years now and since China became a member of the IAEA all the civilian reactors given by China have been subject to IAEA safeguards. Unlike in the case of India, after the Indo-US nuclear deal, Pakistan continues to go by the normal safeguards agreement for Non-NPT states. In India’s case it may be recalled, the US managed to get an India-specific safeguards agreement from the IAEA for those reactors that the US will either be providing fuel for or helping construct. Moreover, it is India that will decide which reactors will come under these loose safeguards and according to a unique provision - not present in any other IAEA safeguard model - India can opt out of the safeguards when it sees fit! The US also got country-specific export exceptions for India from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), which goes contrary to not only the NPT but also the NSG’s own guidelines. Ironically, the NSG first came into being in 1975 as a reaction to the 1974 Indian nuclear test where the explosive device used plutonium from a Canadian-supplied reactor. Even at that time, Canada irrationally chose to penalise Pakistan by immediately withdrawing aid to the KANUPP reactor despite it being under IAEA safeguards.
Now once again, the US is threatening to victimise Pakistan and try and sabotage the civilian nuclear deal with China - which is similar to and a continuation of past cooperation under IAEA scrutiny. The chosen forum for the present pressure on Pakistan is the upcoming NSG meeting in New Zealand. However, both China and Pakistan need to remember that the NSG is merely a ‘club’ of suppliers of nuclear technology where membership is by choice and there is nothing internationally and legally binding with regard to its decisions. So Pakistan and China are under no obligation to give in to unreasonable country-specific demands targeting Pakistan’s civilian nuclear programme - after all, China’s membership of the NSG is voluntary and while it can explain its nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, it is under no compulsion to abandon it at the behest of the NSG. Another Muslim state, Iran, is also going to be targeted at the New Zealand NSG meeting.

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