Reports claim Pakistan may get US’ support for waiver by 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group
The United States and Pakistan are in the process of negotiating an accord which may end up in a civil nuclear deal between the two countries, a report published in The Washington Post claimed on Tuesday.
“The White House is exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems,” David Ignatius, an opinion writer for the US-based newspaper said.
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If media reports are to be believed, the US may be able to secure a civil nuclear deal in the near future with Pakistan, as it did with India in 2005. “Pakistan has been asked to consider what are described as ‘brackets’,” the newspaper quoted a source familiar with the talks between the two countries as saying.
The newspaper further suggested that Pakistan would agree to restrict its nuclear program to weapons and delivery systems that are appropriate to its actual defence needs against India’s nuclear threat. “Pakistan might agree not to deploy missiles capable of reaching beyond a certain range,” it quoted as an example of the accord between the two countries.
Pakistan, in return, can get the US’ support for an eventual waiver by the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which the US is a member, claimed the newspaper’s source.
At US’ urging, the same group had agreed to exempt India from rules that banned nuclear trade with countries that evaded the Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing the Pakistani arch rival a partial entry into the club of nuclear powers in exchange for its willingness to apply International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to its civilian programme.
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The sources, however, said the negotiations between the US and Pakistan on the agreement would be slow and difficult due to the fact that Pakistan honours its nuclear programme and it is not yet clear if the country would eventually be willing to accept the limitations that would be required.
It revealed that the issue is being discussed quietly in advance to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Washington on October 22, 2015.
The US considers this nuclear dialogue especially important because it would begin to address what US officials for two decades have viewed as one of the world’s most dangerous security problems.
The dialogue comes in the wake of a recent surge of Taliban violence in Afghanistan, building pressure on the US to address the issues of the nation it evaded a decade ago. “The US is quietly exploring some diplomatic options that could reduce the violence in Afghanistan,” the report said.
Considering the volatile situation of the region, the US is keen to adopt an aggressive diplomacy to reduce the Taliban’s threat which the Afghan government frequently blames to have been sponsored from Pakistan, a claim Pakistani officials have always denied.
The US recognised more than four years ago that the best way out of the Afghanistan conflict would be a diplomatic settlement that involved the Taliban and “its sometime sponsors in Pakistan”.
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This article originally appeared on The Washington Post.