By Asma Khalid
The efforts for nuclear disarmament dates back to 1945 post World War II, when the two super powers US and USSR invented the lethal weapons of mass destruction. This damaging invention brought dramatic changes in military circle and gave boost to the concept of universal nuclear disarmament. Basically, eradication of nuclear weapons is a desirable universal goal to maintain international peace and security. United Nations (UN) contributed in the efforts and device a Conference known as Conference on Disarmament (CD) to further advance the process. FMCT is one of the off-shoot of CD, working for the goal of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Main objectives of FMCT includes elimination of fissile material stockpiles, ultimate end of nuclear weapons, contain arms race and it is believed that conclusion of FMCT would harmonize the NPT and CTBT. However, Target States of FMCT includes P5, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Though ample efforts are made to conclude FMCT but two primary issues have created a gridlock in its negotiations and entry into force: one is issue of existing stockpiles and second is safeguards mechanism comprising of verification procedures followed by International Atomic Energy (IAEA) safeguards.
Pakistan has blocked the negotiations on fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) and strictly following it stance that pre-existing stockpiles should be included in the draft of the FMCT before negotiations. It supported the December 1993 UN General Assembly resolution and Shannon Mandate (1995) because it will help to deal with the pre-existing stocks of fissile material.
Though pressure on international community especially US is building that it should make Pakistan agree to the initiate negotiations on FMCT. Pakistan’s reluctance to sign the treaty as it is also attributed to the discriminatory policies of the West on civilian nuclear cooperation. Pakistan’s position on FMCT is determined by the national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia as growing conventional imbalance and absence of arms control regime to avoidance of an arms race are main concerns of Pakistan.
It is significant to note that, it was not Pakistan to introduce nuclear weapons in the region, actually it was provoked to maintain the Minimum Credible Deterrence to fulfill its security demands. Additionally, Pakistan’s nuclear program is based on the defensive posture. It has initiated its nuclear program to address its security issues as well as chalked out it’s apprehensions regarding the potential FMCT in a way that it could address Pakistan’s security concerns as it is viewed that extensive difference between India and Pakistan’s fissile material Stock piles has the ability to erode the nuclear deterrence stability in the region because there is no doubt that India will use it fissile material stocks to manufacture the nuclear weapon. The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal has further consolidated Islamabad‘s stance on the FMCT at CD. In this regard Pakistan shouldn’t agree to accept or freeze the inequality. Along with the issue of existing stockpiles, Pakistan has concerns on the term “FMCT” because cut-off involves a mere halt in future production whereas the actual objective of the treaty is to ban the production and stockpiling of fissile material. Pakistan seems most likely to stand in the way unless some method can be found to deal with the pre-existing stockpiles. Pakistan has still retained the demand regarding the elimination of existing stock-piles. The most interesting side is that several states and international analysts support the Pakistan’s proposal regarding the title of the treaty and demand of eliminating pre-existing stocks. Another important dimension of the issue is that Pakistan is not alone in its demands but most of the non-Aligned countries like Syria, Iran and Egypt are also in favor of Pakistan’s stance.
If FMCT is concluded then military nuclear program of states will also be affected, especially Japan, Canada and Australia will suffer a lot by this ban. It is viewed that Pakistan will be among the most affected countries once any negotiated settlement on FMCT is reached. Because P-5 has already enough fissile material and they do not require more in future. However, Israel and India, with the help of United States and European countries would also have huge stockpiles of fissile material. Ultimately it will be Pakistan, left behind with minimal fissile material.
Keeping in mind the stance of Pakistan on FMCT, It is clear that Pakistan’s position on FMCT actually revolve around its national security issues, dynamics of strategic stability in region and to ensure the peace in world. Pakistan would have to face serious security issues if FMCT is concluded without addressing Pakistan’s concerns of existing stockpiles. Whereas it might be possible that Pakistan enter in negotiations regarding treaty in future, after its concerns of existing stockpiles are addressed and reduction of the existing stockpiles of nuclear material takes place under disarmament measures. Hence preferably, the treaty should be titled as FMT rather than FMCT and ideally must be concluded in a way that it must follow non-discriminatory approach and it must address national security concerns of all states under the present realities to achieve the non-proliferation objectives.
Asma Khalid is a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.