NSS & Pakistan

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Dr. Shireen M Mazari

President Obama has called a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April (12-13) this year and more than 40 heads of state are expected to attend. This is a follow-on from Obama’s Prague speech of April 5 in which he outlined his arms control and nuclear nonproliferation objectives with nuclear terrorism topping the list. Now there is a growing lobby within Washington that sees Obama’s nuclear arms reduction and disarmament pledges as threatening to US long-term interests; and so far Obama has not managed to move substanti-vely on his commitments in this field – as has been the story with him since he began functioning as the US president. In fact, so far his foreign policy in actual actions has not strayed too far from that of his predecessor.

Be that as it may, since the Pakistani president will also be present at this Summit, the country needs to evolve a policy on nuclear security that ensures Pakistan’s interests for the future. One does not expect President Zardari to actually take a strong nationalist position against the Western tide at the Summit, but we can at least highlight what does need to be done and live in hope. A beginning needs to be made by preparing our interpretations of the four main points of the Obama nonproliferation objectives. The environment envisaged is not a UN-type international framework for nuclear security but a US-led framework, with the US firmly in the driving seat. So, the first thing Pakistan needs to build support for the view that any such framework must be within a UN framework and support for this view can be built amongst the developing states, who are critical to the success of this Summit.

Then comes the Obama agenda, beginning with the desire to “lead a global effort” to secure all vulnerable nuclear weapons materials at vulnerable sites within a time frame of four years – Obama’s term in office! Now clearly, Pakistan will be targeted on this count but we need to point to the truly vulnerable sites which actually are primarily in the US. After all, it is from the US that a USAF plane simply took off with live nuclear weapons and no one knew who had authorised it or where it was headed. So there are serious question marks about US command and control and till these are cleared, US nuclear sites need to be under extra international supervision. Also, Pakistan needs to demand at this Summit that all past incidences of “loose nukes” be evaluated and the most vulnerable or accident-prone sites should then be secured. Of course no such incidents have ever cropped up in Pakistan so we should ensure that our nuclear sites do not even come up for discussion – although that will be part of the US agenda.

Then Obama is seeking, according to his Prague speech, new partnerships and new standards to protect sensitive nuclear materials. Well, if Obama is really committed to this objective, the first thing he needs to do is to move out of the nuclear deal with India – the 123 Agreement – since that widens the scope for diversion of nuclear materials for weapons purposes, given the lose safeguards agreements and the freeing of Indian fissile material for the production of more nukes. So far the US has set regressive standards for nuclear material safety through this deal with India and through its continuing proliferation to Israel – so let the US move towards setting new standards that truly ensure nonproliferation. Many states will be prepared to enter into nondiscriminatory partnerships with the US on this count.

Obama also wants to convert coalitions of the willing effectively into international institutions – such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Global Effort to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. PSI should certainly be open to all states but for Pakistan it is essential to ensure that this does not contravene the Law of the Sea agreements. As for the Global Effort to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, there are already international treaties that exist like the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material Treaty. Why not simply stren-gthen these? Also, the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference is coming up in May and it is time the NPT was brought in line with the prevailing ground realities where two overt nuclear weapon states are not accommodated as such within the Treaty.
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Obama’s UNSC nuclear agenda

The UN Security Council is to meet on September 24 in a session to be chaired by President Obama. The focus will be on arms control and disarmament, specifically within the nuclear context. The Obama Administration has already put forward a draft for a UNSC resolution on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament. Ironically, the Obama draft has many crucial elements reflecting the thinking of the Bush Administration. This should not come as a total surprise given how many of the emerging foreign and security policies of the Obama Administration are seeming more and more like a continuation of the Bush policies – especially in relation to Afghanistan and Pakistan and nuclear proliferation.

In the latter context, despite rhetoric to the contrary, the Obama Administration has gone along with the Bush policy of fast-tracking a US sponsored draft of a Fissile Material Control Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. The problem is that this draft fails to include some of the basic points demanded by most of the other main players – including China and Pakistan. For instance, the US draft leaves out provisions for a verification structure regarding fissile material stockpiles. Instead it refers only to national technical means of verification. Now Pakistan has already learnt the hard way that without verification provisions, international agreements relating to weapon material stockpiles are unreliable. After all, despite a bilateral Pakistan-India treaty relating to chemical weapons, Pakistan was duped by India until the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention revealed Indian stockpiles of these weapons — which India had informed Pakistan it had already destroyed! Nor does the US draft FMCT deal with PAROS – the prevention of an arms race in outer space – a major issue with China. But for the US with its Ballistic Missile Defence programme, PAROS is hardly a priority.

We have seen the Obama Administration recognize the need for safeguards, but it is not prepared to alter the Bush-introduced FMCT draft. Perhaps the most critical issue for Pakistan is that there is no provision for reduction of existing stockpiles – without which an FMCT would put Pakistan at a permanent disadvantage. Despite all these adverse factors, Pakistan is being pushed into accepting the US-drafted FMCT without movement on the related issues – which is against the international consensus achieved in the Shannon Mandate.

So undoubtedly, in the forthcoming session of the UNSC we are going to see Obama push the US draft resolution on nuclear proliferation through. This would be detrimental for countries like Pakistan because some of the clauses in the US draft are deliberate attempts to politicize technical nonproliferation issues by widening the scope of the UNSC and reducing the role of the IAEA – despite the fact of the independent El Baradei’s departure and the coming of a US-compliant DG at the IAEA.

Amongst the clauses that are of concern are Articles1 and 2.

Article 1 is a dangerous clause because it seeks to bring nuclear matters, which normally come under the IAEA, to the UNSC – thereby politicizing them and giving the UNSC a wider scope of punitive action. In fact, such a clause will prevent the IAEA from seeking compromise solutions through a technical focus and an apolitical approach – something Baradei tried to maintain vis a vis Iran despite enormous US pressure. Also, this clause would encourage powerful states like the US to politicize genuinely technical issues in order to punish hostile states.

Article 2 presents indirectly an absurd interpretation of Article IV of the Non Proliferation Treaty by demanding that states comply fully with their NPT obligations but that the benefits of the NPT were conditional with such compliance. There is in fact no conditionality factor present in Article IV which is supposed to offer civilian nuclear technology to NPT members as well as allowing them equal rights to develop civil nuclear technology.

All in all, the US draft resolution for the UNSC is wrought with the same problems that surfaced in the Bush Administration’s approach to nuclear nonproliferation. It tries to bring in the terrorism issue into the nuclear ambit despite the fact that terrorists do not need to acquire nuclear weapons to implement their agendas. Preambular para 16 is interesting because it talks of a grave concern over the “threat of nuclear terrorism, including provision of nuclear material or technical assistance for the purpose of terrorism”. Pakistan should be wary of this as it will be used against the country and its scientists, especially Dr A Q Khan. The US has tried so many different tacks to get access to Dr Khan and this is bound to be another stick with which to beat Pakistan and Dr Khan.

The constant US refrain of a nuclear terrorist attack on the US homeland from our part of the world is so ridiculous that one cannot seriously discuss it. Suffice it to say that how would a terrorist with a nuclear device or even material transport it across the ocean to the US? Would he parcel it to an accomplice and hope the radioactivity would go unnoticed through all the multiple security checks? Or would he carry it on his person and hope no one would detect it? No. If there were to be an act of nuclear terrorism in the US it would have to be carried out from within the US – where nuclear security is a major issue. Not only have there been nuclear material leaks at power plants; the US Air Force temporarily lost live nuclear weapons as recently as 2007. So much for stable command and control structures!

Unfortunately, the Obama draft ignores the real security concern regarding nuclear issues. This is the safety of nuclear installations in terms of leakages and missing fissile material. The most abysmal record on this count is that of Japan, Russia and India, while the US has been proliferating to Israel for decades now. Japan has one of the most developed civil nuclear programmes in the world and has caused concern in its neighbourhood with a controversial reprocessing plant and with the accidents at its nuclear plants. With the end of the Soviet Union, there have been a spate of reports dealing with stolen Russian and Ukrainian uranium being sold in the black market. Reports have also been published of missing radioactive material in India.

So, if the Obama Administration really wanted to zero in on the security factor in the nuclear domain, it would have focused more on nuclear safety and less on nuclear terrorism – which, while it can never be eliminated as a concern, is not rationally a viable one at present. However, it does have abundant political mileage which the US and its allies never tire of exploiting.

All in all, it is unfortunate to see Obama’s electoral rhetoric on nonproliferation dissipate so quickly – just as his rhetoric on the so-called war on terror has slipped into Bush gear!

With such a hostile and discriminatory nonproliferation draft resolution before it, what will Pakistan’s stance be? Will Haqqani push the US agenda as always or will the FO hold its ground in the absence of its Secretary? Will our rulers make us victims of yet another deal? We shouldn’t hold our breath. Dr. Shireen M Mazari

America’s Nuclear Games

Obama is certainly stretching his global goodwill to its limits. After critiquing the US invasion of Iraq when out of power, he has upped the military ante with the surge in Afghanistan; re focused on the military centric approach in Pakistan with a massive increase in drone attacks against Pakistani civilians (just so much “collateral damage” for the US of course) on the one hand, and with the successful goading of the Pakistan military through the Zardari nexus into FATA where the quagmire is already unfolding in the terrible deaths of our soldiers and innocent civilians while the terrorism issue shows no signs of abating. Pakistan has come out the worst in Obama’s policies especially in terms of the growing intrusiveness the US is acquiring in our daily lives with US inspectors now promising to hover in all our bureaucracies to see that the “aid” they are giving is spent as they see fit – not to mention the $.9 billion that will immediately go back to the US for the rebuilding of its embassy in a more imperial design.

However, it is not just Pakistan that is suffering from what is effectively a right-wing Obama agenda. Now Obama has teamed up with Russia to fool the world in terms of nuclear disarmament. The US and Russian leaders declared in a grand fashion that they have agreed to reduce their existing nuclear stockpiles but failed to tell the world that most of these reductions would be of redundant weapons which will create space for the new ones. After all, neither side avowed to stop adding to their arsenals!

An even more dangerous development has been the gradual taking over of critical international institutions by the US and its preferred personnel. We first saw the UN effectively become a tool in US hands with the Secretary-Generalship going to South Korea’s Ban Ki Moon – a look at the UN record post the Moon takeover will be self-explanatory. Now we have seen the IAEA once again coming under the US and its allies’ control with the election of Japan’s Ambassador Yukiya Amano by the IAEA BoG followed by his formal appointment by the BoG. Now the General Conference will confirm this appointment later in September. This election of Amano is unfortunate since the strong positions taken by the present DG, El Baradei stand threatened as the Japanese have always gone along with US positions – something Baradei did not do and therefore fell afoul of this super power. Competing with Amano was South Africa’s Abdul Samad Minty – a respected and strong diplomat, which is why the US had nightmares. Till the last ballot, the stalemate persisted but in the end one vote changed it all and the Indian media has been agog with how their last minute reversal to an abstention allowed Amano to win. No one will ever know but having seen Minty in action two years ago, he would have been the more desirable strong man to follow Baradei and maintain IAEA’s independent positioning on issues like Iran.

So now the US has won back control of the UN and IAEA. Apparently, the US is already using the Japanese to wield pressure where it cannot do so itself too overtly. In this connection, recently a Japanese team visited Pakistan demanding access to Dr Khan but were not successful. Now with Amano at the helm at the IAEA, what sort of Japanese pressure will we see vis a vis Pakistan? Perhaps it is time we drew more attention to Japan’s massive civil nuclear programme and its controversial reprocessing agenda.

Nor is this all in terms of US seeking to implement its nuclear agenda globally. It has got things moving again at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on the Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT). Perhaps after what happened at the IAEA on the Indian safeguards agreement, we should not be surprised to find that our highly competent head diplomat in Geneva also buckled under (or was made to) and accepted the US-pushed programme of work for the CD. This does not specifically include the issue of existing nuclear stockpiles in relation to the FMCT so has Pakistan shifted its position to its permanent disadvantage under US pressure once again? Also, while the programme of work has identified four issues – FMCT, Nuclear Disarmament, PAROS (Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space) and Negative Security Guarantees – by delinking these issues the attempt is clearly to move on the FMCT without conditionalities relating to the other three issues. This is again a major shift because many states including China wanted linkages between the FMCT and PAROS for instance. Now it would appear that the US will again move on the FMCT as it did on the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the UN in the sixties. When states like Pakistan had raised issues of negative and positive security guarantees to be linked to the NPT, the US insisted that first the NPT should be approved and then the security guarantee issues could be dealt with. The result was that the Conference on the security guarantees followed the passage of the NPT and the US was not prepared to even provide negative security assurances in any form whatsoever to non-nuclear weapons states. For Pakistan all these issues, and none more so than the issue of reduction of existing stockpiles of fissile material, are very crucial in the context of the FMCT and even if we have to go it alone we should, because otherwise we will be at a permanent disadvantage. But the way things are unfolding it appears we may have made some fatal compromises already in this regard.

It is in this overall context of the US pushing its nuclear agenda globally that we must raise our voices of concern over what seems to have become a covert official US policy – to allow Israel to deal with Iran’s nuclear facilities. Most recently Biden (New York Times) stated that the US would not “stand in Israel’s way” if it sought to take action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It was amusing to hear Biden talk of Israel being a “sovereign” state taking its own decisions! Now when did the US ever respect any state’s sovereignty – as we in Pakistan have continuously experienced and still do so! Be that as it may, the Biden statement was threatening because it came alongside a 5th July 2009 Sunday Times story that Israel’s Mossad chief had informed his prime minister of Saudi Arabia’s assurance to him that it would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over Saudi air space to conduct attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Early this year it had also been reported that the Mossad Chief, Dagan, had met Saudi officials.

So a new and threatening pattern is emerging even as Obama seeks to woo the world with what is now becoming his glibness rather than a serious intent to alter the course of US policies on security issues. Is it a mere coincidence that we are now seeing unprecedented violence breaking out in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi? We know that the East Turkmenistan Movement still has its offices in New York. So what is the US intent? To send a hostile message to China? What exactly is the Obama administration up to? Is it all a matter of old wine in new bottles rather than any major shift away from a neoimperialist mindset that has been the hallmark of US global policies for some time now?

Too bad. So many had expected so much from Obama – the thinking, intelligent and more world-sensitive US president. But what we are seeing around our part of the world is more of the same – with the new veneer eroding fast. More force; more aggression; more dictation. Just as our leaders crumble once again before the US demands, the US leadership offers little that will compel us to alter our perception of a neoimperial power set on a military-centric course for this part of the world. As before, this course will bring them to ruin but must we go down the same suicidal path? Dr Shireen M Mazari

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