Proliferation Press

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

Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

China-Pakistan Deal Pushes Forward Without the NSG: Is This Something to Worry About?

Posted by K.E. White on June 27, 2011

No, but others disagree.

A fellow law student, Matthew F. Ferraro, at Flashpoint (A Blog of The Diplomat Magazine) discusses two recent–and in his view troubling–nuclear moves by China.  Ferraro frets over (1) China’s pending nuclear deal with Pakistan and (2) Chinese refusal to allow India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  While he doesn’t offer a solution to the perceived second problem, he suggests an intriguing idea for the first:  have the NSG push for a de facto waiver by lobbying China to accept a NSG declaration welcoming the deal and emphasizing that all nuclear facilities under it will be under IAEA restrictions.

While thoughtful and original piece, Ferraro’s ‘solution’ is impractical, and–if pursued–would risk dealing a fatal blow ever getting Pakistan in the nuclear fold and needlessly alienate China.

(And did I mention that pursuing this de facto waiver would futher strain America’s relationship with Pakistan?)

There are a five points to bring-up that in my view represent critical omissions/miscues on the article:

(1)  The US-India nuclear deal was a bum deal, but we’re sticking to it.  The United States actively lobbied the NSG to grant a ‘waiver’, in return for a new, strategic relationship with India.  And for what (primary) reason?  To corner China.  What did we actually get?  (1) International criticism; (2) India getting even more nuclear deals with Russia and France; (3) and India not really pinning China down.  And how do you think the United States (tacitly) got China’s approval on this waiver?  Probably a guarantee not to hold up (oh wait it can’t) complain about a nuclear deal with Pakistan.

(2)  China’s deal with Pakistan is not illegal.  Ferraro states refers to this deal as “China’s illicit sale”, but it’s not illicit.  The NSG terms are voluntary.  This is a crucial point that undermines the basis of the entire article:  China isn’t breaking its international commitments.  Yes, the NSG  could kick out China, which would then (pretty much) destroy the very reason for the NSG to exist.  But there’s an important difference between a ‘breach’ of a voluntary agreement, and violating international law.  This may seem silly semantics, but the NSG is voluntary exactly so it’s members can show the flexibility necessary to deal with nuclear commerce issues.  In fact, with an issue as sensitive as nuclear commerce, this flexibility is needed.

(3)  Is the United States really all  that upset?  Sorry to call me a skeptic, but the U.S. knew this day was coming.  Giving India a nuclear pass meant that India would get one as well.  Furthermore, at a time when U.S.-Pakistan are both vital and troubled, I think the U.S. may actually be thankful for this deal in the long-term.  Pakistan already has nukes; the United States can’t give any nuclear carrots (for domestic and external reasons); at least China can give tools, IAEA assurances, and perhaps a road to bringing Pakistan into the nuclear fold.

The critical point:  The United States can’t bring Pakistan into the nuclear fold alone; it will need China, and to get that support, the United States will have to deal with China keep Pakistan a strategic partner.

(4)  Ferraro’s solution sounds great, but spells trouble.  This isn’t the way to go.  If India was kicking and screaming about NSG approval of the U.S.-India deal, the NSG injecting itself into a bilateral agreement without China’s approval is fool-hearty at best, stupid at worst.  First, China won’t vote for it–hence, it won’t pass.  Result:  the NSG looks completely helpless, and antagonizes China.  Critical point:  China’s timing of this deal has as much to do with helping itself, as helping the other NSG members swallow the deal.  Second, it pushes Pakistan even further away from coming into the nuclear fold–like eventually signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The NSG focusing even more attention on this matter will (1) likely fail and (2)  alienate China and Pakistan.  At at time when having India and Pakistan sign the NPT (less likely) or Conventional Test Ban Treaty (more likely medium-term) is far more important than bellyaching Pakistan nuclear deal, the NSG pursuing a de facto waiver seems a dangerous waste of time.

(5)  Thank God China’s blocking India’s NSG bid!  Ferraro leaves this point in left field, mentioning it but not explaining why it’s bad.  I assume Ferraro believes bringing India into the NSG is a nonproliferation ‘win’.  But that seems a rather dubious proposition.  Opening the doors to India inevitably opens question about permitting Pakistan and Israel into a club.  Great, let’s dominant all NSG discussion over member instead of getting the current members on the same page on nuclear policy.   (If you couldn’t guess, I believe this is a bad idea.).

Conclusion:  The Deal Is Happening, and It’s a Good Thing–But What Comes Next?

Ferraro basically sees the ‘bad’ in the China-Pakistan deal, without looking to the hard realities of today’s nuclear diplomacy.  Now admittedly, perhaps I’m to quick to give China a pass-a position Ashley J. Tellis would no doubt agree with me on.  (Note:  Tellis gives more background on the China-Pakistan nuke deal’s differences from the U.S.-India deal and how China justifies the deal).

But, overall, I still believe the United States should quietly be pleased with China’s moves.  The real question wasn’t if this move was going to happen, but (1) how it was executed and (2) how it would be used in the future to mold Pakistan’s nuclear practices.  China’s actions are actually containing the fall-out from America’s past breach of nuclear norms.  Is China getting a benefit?  Sure.  But when it comes to the nonproliferation agenda, all goodies that America gets, China and Russia will get.  At least China using its nuclear card prudently, quietly, and in way that helps maintain international stability, helps American diplomacy, and–most importantly to those concerned with nuclear proliferation–generates to a new lever to pressure Pakistan on nonproliferation issues.

But the real question of how the U.S., China, and Russia can use this lever to push a nonproliferation agenda, within their already crowded priority agendas, is too early to answer.

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Posted in Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Economist Slams the China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal

Posted by K.E. White on June 30, 2010

While dated, the Economist’s editorial on the China-Pakistan nuclear deal remains a must-read.

But I’ll ring one optimistic tone:  with the US and China now both active nuclear patrons to non-NPT parties–not to mention others–there may be more support among the nuclear powers to tighten safeguards in the future.

Why?  They’ll all want cover in the event of a nuclear crisis.  This has particular resonance in Pakistan.

Perhaps the US offering their own deal is just the cross-cutting engagement that can secure Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure?

To key parts from The Economist’s editorial:

America argued that India had a spotless non-proliferation record (it doesn’t) and that bringing it into the non-proliferation “mainstream” could only bolster global anti-proliferation efforts (it didn’t). The deal incensed not just China and Pakistan but many others, inside and outside the NSG. An immediate casualty was the effort to get all members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), who have already promised not to seek the bomb, to sign up to an additional protocol on toughened safeguards. Many have, but on hearing of the America-India deal Brazil’s president is reputed to have flatly ruled that out. And where Brazil has put its foot down, others have also hesitated.

What particularly riles outsiders is that America did not get anything much out of India in return. It did not win backing for new anti-proliferation obligations, such as a legally binding test ban or for an end to the further production of fissile uranium or plutonium for bombs. India has since designated some of its reactors as civilian, and open to inspection, but others still churn out spent fuel richly laden with weapons-usable plutonium. India can potentially make even more of the stuff. Now that it can import uranium fuel for its civilian reactors, it can devote more of its scarce domestic supplies to bomb-making.

If Pakistan really is worried about India’s growing nuclear arsenal, diplomacy might work better than an arms race. George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment, a think tank, says Pakistan should lift its veto on a ban on the production of fissile materials for bombs. That would put India (which claims to support a ban) on the spot. Like enriched uranium, hypocrisy can be costlier than it seems.

Posted in Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

NSG To Take Up China-Pakistan Nuke Deal at Christchurch

Posted by K.E. White on June 22, 2010

The Times of India points out a crucial difference between China’s planned nuclear deal with Pakistan and the US-India nuclear deal:

In Christchurch, above, the NSG will meet and discuss the China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

On the basis of previous Chinese statements, the United States is expected to argue that the supply of additional power reactors would not be grandfathered. In that sense, the Christchurch meeting will demonstrate how far China is prepared to abide by its commitments to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the NSG guidelines.

The Indian example is not a precedent since India’s exemption had to go through the US legislative scrutiny and the NSG exemption. Pakistan cannot compare its non-proliferation record with that of India. The exoneration of A Q Khan by the judiciary of charges of unauthorized nuclear trade clearly implies that Pakistani proliferation had the approval of successive governments in Islamabad. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is still to get access to Khan. The proliferation, Iran being uppermost in international concern, started with a Pakistani deal with that country.

Stuff.co.nz—offering an excellent recap–suggests China will probably get its way:

The Times of India newspaper reported that the growing “clout” of China internationally meant there had been a lot of grumbling, “but little outright opposition” to the Pakistan proposal, though France was likely to raise objections at the New Zealand meeting.

It said the row could also spell trouble for India’s ambition to become a full member of the NSG, as there was a “growing anger, albeit impotent” within the group over the Chinese move.

China was unlikely to ask for a full waiver for the Pakistan proposal from the NSG but push it through “under a kind of diplomatic amnesia because there is a paper trail that says only two reactors in Pakistan had been `grandfathered’ by China”, the paper said.

Finally, Zia Mian and Daryl G. Kimball urge NSG members to resist endorsing China’s nuclear deal.

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China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal

Posted by K.E. White on June 6, 2010

Fall-out from the U.S.-India nuclear deal?  Foreign Policy offers this article by Mark Hibbs.

Posted in China, Nuclear Deal, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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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Proliferation News Blurb: America’s Iranian Strategy and A Critical View of U.S. Pakistan Relations

Posted by K.E. White on March 26, 2010

Politico and Foreign Policy offer must-read articles relating to American foreign policy.

Politico offers this editorial from Britain’s U.S. ambassador Nigel Sheinwald.  Sheinwald points out to positive factors in the U.S.-Iranian bargaining positions:  1) Since Obama’s election, international suspicion has shifted from U.S. motivations to Iran’s secretive ambitions, 2)  develops in Iraq have strengthened America’s bargaining hand (at least from its 2006 low point), 3)  that Iran’s internal strife has diplomatically isolated the nation.

But can economic sanctions—and not a more aggressive option—deter Iran from the bomb?  From Sheinwald’s article:

Third, economic pressures are increasing, as a result of years of mismanagement and the sanctions. The statistics are significant. Inflation is close to 20 percent. Iran’s oil production and exports both fell by 10 percent last year. Iran’s banks are feeling the heat of the sanctions, with huge reductions in foreign currency transfers.

All this has driven up the cost of imports by 25 percent. Iranian bazaaris — an important political class that allied with the clerics to bring down the shah — are bearing much of the cost.

We must not, of course, be complacent. Tehran remains defiant. But its discomfort is increasing.

In international relations, there are rarely overnight solutions to complex problems. But our long-term strategy of trying to alter fundamentally the cost-benefit equation for Iran remains the right approach. We still have time to increase the pressure — including the early adoption of sanctions — and bring Tehran to the negotiating table. The key — for all of us — is to use this time smartly.

One critique:  Sheinwald conveniently overlooks India and Pakistan’s nuclear trajectories.

And Foreign Policy offers a critical look at U.S.-Pakistan relations from a Pakastani journalist.  The main point:  Pakistan’s regime still fails its citizens.

From Huma Imtiaz’s article:

At the end of the day, even if the United States promises the moon (which it won’t), and even if the Pakistani government comes back empty handed, or laden with promises, the situation in Pakistan will remain the same. Even with a lull in recent terror attacks, Pakistanis are braced every single day for the worst to happen. The current electricity shortfall in the country is now at 5,000 megawatts, meaning electricity cuts off from anywhere between 4 – 12 hours a day. Prime Minister Gilani is promising the world to Pakistanis at the moment, saying the delegation will discuss everything from power plants to Afia Siddiqui’s case. The media wing of Pakistan’s army — the Inter Services Public Relations — sends daily dispatches reporting such events as: “X number of militants was killed in army operations in the tribal areas,” in an attempt to show that all is well in the country.

While this dialogue between the U.S. administration and the Pakistani government will surely continue, one wonders if all that is promised will be delivered. And with Pakistan’s current government’s record being so dismal on everything from implementing constitutional reforms to infrastructure development, it is highly likely that the Pakistan-U.S. talks will remain just that: talk.

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pakistan and America Cozy Up During Strategic Dialogue

Posted by K.E. White on March 25, 2010

The United States and Pakistan have closed out two major meetings, wrapping up highlights of their week-long strategic dialogue.  NPR offers a good summary of the meetings and their trust-building importance, and the current status of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Earlier this week, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.  And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi conducted a ministerial meeting yesterday.

A apparent results of the meetings are not breath-taking.  Yesterday’s meeting brought new American pledges for development aid.

From The Australian:

“It is the start of something new. Our countries have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past and there are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends or family members,” she said. “But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan.”

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N-Deal for Pakistan? C. Christine Fair’s Editorial in Foreign Policy Magazine

Posted by K.E. White on March 23, 2010

Update 3/24/10:  Fair’s Foreign Policy editorial post-dates a similar editorial she wrote for the Wall Street Journal last month (subscription only).

C. Christine Fair suggests the United States take preliminary steps towards a nuclear deal with Pakistan.

The reward for such a policy?  Breaking the Pakistani regime’s ties to extremist organizations.

Could such a plan work?  Perhaps.  But there are many pitfalls.  Would opening Pakistan to the nuclear market-place really strengthen America’s bargaining power?  Or would we get short-term gain, and then watch in later years as Pakistan deals with other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group?  And what cost would America pay in its relationship with India or its efforts to strengthen non-proliferation norms if it even hinted at a U.S.-Pakistan nuclear deal?

In any case, any Obamaland discussion of this proposal seems unlikely for now.  With the State Department struggling to seal a new START treaty with Russia; Obama preparing for an international nuclear security summit latter this spring; and a once-every-five-years NPT review conference convening this summer, Obama’s nonproliferation agenda would–at best—be distracted with talk of another country-specific U.S. nuclear deal.

But Fair draws our attention to a critical and (perhaps) emerging U.S. foreign policy debate.  And any debate that links American security interests, Pakistan’s internal stability and global nonproliferation norms will expose thorny but unavoidable policy dilemmas.

Fair, a professor at Georgetown University, offers full-text links to a rich body of previously published works.  I particularly recommend Determinants of Popular Support for Iran’s Nuclear Program, India and the US:  Embracing a New Paradigm and Indo-Iranian Ties:  Thicker Than Oil.

From Fair’s article at ForeignPolicy.com:

Pakistan maintains that its dangerous policies are motivated by fears of India. A phased U.S. approach will either diminish this deep-seated insecurity or call Pakistan’s bluff about the rationale for its behavior, motivating the United States to rethink its handling of Pakistan. Either outcome would be an enormous improvement over the stagnant status quo.

Washington must transform its relations with Islamabad (and Rawalpindi, where Pakistan’s military is headquartered) with the same energy and creativity as it did with New Delhi because Washington needs both South Asian states as much as they need Washington. Such a conditions-based deal will take years to come to fruition even if dubious U.S entities and inveterate U.S. foes in Pakistan don’t stand in the way. Putting it on the table now would only be a first step in a strategic gamble that may or may not pay off down the road.

And from another article Fair wrote for Washington Monthly in April 2009:

The Need for Sober Realism

The United States needs to chart a different relationship with Pakistan, relying on different instruments of influence. It needs to lessen its dependence on Pakistan so it can be bolder in applying negative as well as positive inducements to shape Pakistani behavior. It needs to develop a suite of assistance that strengthens Pakistan’s governance capacity and the country’s ability to wage counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations effectively. And it needs to support Pakistani civil society as it debates the kind of country it wants to become and seeks to hold its government to account for its crimes of commission and omission. In the end, despite continued U.S. and international support and assistance along these lines, Pakistan may remain unwilling or unable to relinquish support for militant groups within its territory or in the region. In this case, the United States must be willing to consider Pakistan an ill-suited recipient of U.S. generosity and be willing to deploy punitive measures if need be. Indeed, a credible U.S. threat to apply these sticks may encourage the state to undertake needed steps to secure its own security and that of its neighborhood in the first instance.

Although this may seem untenable at first blush, the alternatives are even worse. If the international community cannot save Pakistan, and if it cannot save itself, then the United States and its partners will have to reorient their efforts toward containing or mitigating the various threats that emanate from Pakistan. This will be a daunting task. The enormity of such efforts should motivate Washington to adopt a realistic policy approach that mobilizes all aspects of U.S. national power to secure a Pakistan at peace with itself and its neighbors.

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Richard Holbrooke Shakes Up U.S. Aid to Pakistan

Posted by K.E. White on March 18, 2010

Bordering Afghanistan, possessing nuclear weapons, and boasting its own pernicious extremist population, Pakistan personifies the ideal candidate for U.S. military and development aid.

Indeed, it’s estimates place America’s 2010 aid expenditure at $2.6 billion.  And it’s for the long-haul: 2009 legislation expends this aid over 5 years.  (The Islamabad Policy institute offers an in-depth report on the legislative history and Pakistani reaction to the 2009 bill)

But does the aid 1) achieve its tailored purposes and 2) serve U.S. interests in the country more broadly?

Well, Pakistan isn’t ecstatic.  And, it seems, neither is Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke.

Foreign Policy reviews ideas to better implement U.S. aid to Pakistan.  The article’s final two paragraphs reveal the key conflict:  ensuring U.S. aid both 1) improves the American image to ordinary Pakistanis and 2) actually shores up Pakistan’s precarious regime.  From the article:

Whatever the United States was doing before didn’t work for Pakistan, and didn’t work for America. Clearly, it’s time to try something else. The danger, though, is that Holbrooke will find a way of helping the U.S. image in Pakistan, and thus advance key national security goals, without really producing change inside the country. Perhaps, therefore, Pakistan should force the United States to re-evaluate aid policy even further. Wendy Chamberlin, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, argued in a recent op-ed that aid will continue to fortify Pakistan’s deeply entrenched elites unless the United States finds an entirely new way of delivering it; she proposed inviting a wide array of groups and individuals to bid for aid projects, much as the Obama administration is now doing in the education world with its $4.3 billion grant program known as Race to the Top.

A more far-reaching proposal comes from the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank that has proposed (pdf) that funders sign contracts with recipient states in which both sides agree on a specific desired outcome — say, increasing the reach of basic health services by a fixed percentage — and then the donor leaves the government wholly free to reach the outcome in any way it sees fit. The donor begins to pay only when the government begins to show results. (A mutually-agreed-upon third party audits the recipient’s progress.) “Cash on delivery aid,” as authors Nancy Birdsall and William D. Savedoff have dubbed the idea, offers accountability for donors, autonomy for recipients, and transparency for citizens of both countries. A corrupt or incompetent government — Pakistan’s, for example — could fail to hold up its end of the bargain. But are Americans really prepared to hand over scarce resources to such a state — even if doing so helps their image?

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Is A Spy Tripping Up the India-Pakistan Peace Process?

Posted by K.E. White on December 23, 2009

Has a Pakistani James Bond, with a US cover job, derailed India-Pakistan relations?

David Coleman Hedley recently arrested for aiding in in last year’s Mumbai attacks (time-line available here), has not helped peace talks between India and Pakistan:

An American with a Pakistani father serves as an agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency. He is covertly trained by the Pakistani army, and is also an operative of the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba. He has a Moroccan wife and many stiletto-heeled girlfriends from Bollywood. After his arrest by U.S. authorities, Indian officials discover that he was given a long-term business visa for India. After his capture in early October, his papers mysteriously go missing from the Indian consulate in Chicago.

The tale of the alleged double agent David Coleman Headley, also known as Daood Sayed Gilani, is now in the middle of a very real investigation by the FBI and at the center of a diplomatic maelstrom that is blowing from Washington to New Delhi.

He is charged with six counts of criminal conspiracy in a case filed in federal court in Chicago. The case names him as a key architect of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Indian authorities also say Headley traveled seamlessly between borders, investigating further sites to attack.

The official investigation and daily exposes appearing in the Indian media have aided in further destabilizing relations between India and Pakistan. But the FBI’s handling of the Headley case, and reports that it has attempted to keep Headley away from Indian investigators, have also fueled suspicion toward the United States, seen here for decades as a Pakistan ally.

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