Gifts of waivers on the bases of so-called non-proliferation record

By Beenish Altaf

India, still could not manage to get in to the cartel of civil nuclear trade (the NSG). This is due to the certain fact of Indian poor non-proliferation credentials recognized internationally. The decision on NSG membership could not be bothered whatever Indian officials state for themselves. For instance, Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said “India is not seeking NSG membership as a gift and that India is seeking it on its non-proliferation record.” But the very fact is quite opposite to that owing to the very basic aspect that India is a non-NPT state wherein NSG membership resides for states Party to the Treaty.

About Indians first nuclear test it has been written a lot in post-nuclear suppliers group’s debate that it was actually a device derived from Canadian and US exports designated purely for peaceful purposes. It was this so called peaceful nuclear test that compelled the United States and numerous other countries to create the Nuclear Suppliers Group to restrict global nuclear trade more relentlessly.

The West is cracking down some bona fide integer with regards to the Indian nuclear security; especially India’s potential of becoming a hefty fissile material proliferator of the South Asian region. Besides the Indo-US strategic partnership aiming at mutual outcomes, there are several reports in the print and social media by US think tanks and policy-making institutions expressing similar apprehensions.

There was a report by the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs of the Harvard Kennedy School titled “The Three Overlapping Streams of India’s Nuclear Programmes”. It actually identifies the problems in India’s nuclear program arising from gaps in the commitments New Delhi had made after its nuclear deal with the US, and in its separation plan, its Safeguards Agreements and its Additional Protocols. The relationships and overlaps between its three streams of nuclear program — civilian safeguarded, civilian unsafeguarded, their civil and military programs — observed in the report are not transparent.

On the contrary, the international community is continually portraying India’s nuclear tract record as an A grade thing that is of the beam. This could be to achieve their (big powers) self-centered goals by posing India so. After the US, many other countries have followed the suit by engaging India into similar kind of uranium deals (Indo-US Nuclear Deal) for dual purpose. Consequently, it has worse and diverse implications for the South Asian nuclear region.

By these nuclear / uranium deals especially the Indo-US nuclear deal, India’s Nuclear weapons would surely be benefited without having any burden on its indigenous resources. It would give India access to huge reserves of fissile material that would be more than enough for upgradation and enhancing its number of nuclear weapons. It would result in the vertical proliferation that would ultimately initiate an enhanced arms race in the South Asia region. Secondly, the move would also smash up the entire emphasize of the non-proliferation regime.

So in actual, admittedly, India has nothing to give in return to so many deals happening day by day on the name of so called good proliferation record of Indian. Instead, Indian nuclear program is unsafe, saying that India’s civilian nuclear energy project, which is being expanded with the help of countries like the United States, can create new potential pathways to the acquisition of fissile material that could be diverted for military purposes.

It is also clear that India has a poor nuclear materials safety record. According to the NTI (Nuclear Materials Security Index), which assesses the security of nuclear materials around the world, India scores below Pakistan, and is ranked only above North Korea and Iran. Thus, assessing all of together, the picture depicts not only the poor state of export controls in the country but further shows the intricate associated concerns of nuclear proliferation and misuse.

For India, NSG membership could [may] boost its international standing as a responsible atomic power and also give it greater influence on issues related to global nuclear trade as many countries are already in line with similar kind of deals as of 2008. However, the country would be the only member of the body that has not signed up to the NPT; signaling an open discriminatory act towards Pakistan. Since, the NSG decisions as taken on consensus, firstly China has reaffirmed it not going to happen, but if it happens then India would always stand against any civil trade with Pakistan. Resultantly, would lead to regional nuclear arms race as India is and would remain out of NPT and would neither sign the treaty.

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Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf is working as a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute, an Islamabad based think tank. Her areas of research are nuclear non-proliferation and strategic issues of South Asia. She has a masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University.

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