Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Pakistan and the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review

Posted by K.E. White on April 8, 2010

Two pieces in today’s Dawn reveal the Pakistani viewpoint on Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and their own ambiguous nuclear status—a nation possessing nuclear weapons, but still unrecognized as such by the international community.

While most US coverage has focused on the impact of the NPR on America’s nuclear arsenal and security, these two articles illustrate the NPR’s impact within foreign nations.

In short, both articles paint the picture of a nuclear armed nation that remains stuck between the categories of nuclear rogue and “recognized and respected nuclear power”.

Dawn reviews the recently released NPR, pointing out its silence on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.  From the article (appropriately titled ‘US nuclear policy makes exceptions for Pakistan’):

The new US policy is also critical of “additional countries” who desire to acquire nuclear weapons, “especially those at odds with the United States, its allies and partners, and the broader international community”.

This condition creates room for Pakistan as a country which is not only allied to the US and its partners but also is playing a key role in their efforts to defeat terrorism.

The document, however, makes no such exception for Iran and North Korea, and points out that in pursuit of their nuclear ambitions, the two countries have “violated non-proliferation obligations, defied directives of the United Nations Security Council, pursued missile delivery capabilities, and resisted international efforts to resolve through diplomatic means the crises they have created”.

And a Dawn editorial pushes for Pakistan to remain a prudent nuclear power, dangling the prospect of an eventual US-Pakistan nuclear deal.

But the possibility of a deal being reached even at some relatively distant point in the future will also remain a non-starter if Pakistan, terrorism/militancy and proliferation are always put in the same basket. Pakistanis should never be complacent about the country’s nuclear programme but neither do they deserve to be forever condemned for past mistakes and by exaggerated suspicions. The road to becoming a recognised and respected nuclear power is still a long way off, but at least the journey should be allowed to commence.

The message is clear:  Continuing to partner with the United States—whatever its difficulties—provides Pakistan a pathway towards acceptance from and prestige within the international community.

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