Minimum nuclear deterrence remains Pakistan’s guiding principle: Sartaj Aziz

Islamabad: Pakistan would maintain minimum nuclear deterrence for balancing the strategic stability in South Asia, Prime Minister's advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Tuesday, amid mounting international pressure on the country to slow down its atomic programme.

Addressing a seminar titled 'Pakistan’s Non-proliferation Efforts and Strategic Export Controls' hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies, he said South Asia’s strategic stability has been negatively impacted by the policies that override the long established principles and norms and are guided by individual state’s strategic and commercial considerations.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs. Reuters

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs. Reuters

"A case in point is the Indo-US civil nuclear deal and the subsequent discriminatory waiver granted to India by the NSG. Eight years down the road one wonders what benefit the non-proliferation regime has secured from the deal?" he asked.

He said recent reports by Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) and assessment by other experts corroborate that the NSG waiver has allowed India to exponentially increase its fissile material stocks with grave implications for the strategic stability of the region.

Aziz said introduction of nuclear submarines, development of anti-ballistic missile system and massive acquisition of conventional weapons, prompt offensive inclinations manifested in doctrines such as the "Cold Start" and "Proactive Operations" pose a serious threat to regional stability.

"As we seek to ensure our security, credible minimum deterrence remains our guiding principle and our conduct will continue to be defined by restraint and responsibility," he said.

"Pakistan is a peace loving country but it was compelled to get nuclear deterrence in the face of growing threat to its security and integrity after Indian nuclear tests," he said.

He also said Pakistan has strong credentials to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other multilateral export control regimes, on non-discriminatory basis.

He said the policy of nuclear mainstreaming of any state should be based on uniform criteria rather than a country specific approach.

The Obama administration has repeatedly expressed concern over Pakistan's continuing deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons and said this increases nuclear risks.

"We have been very concerned about Pakistan's deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons," Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller had told Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing in March.

Aziz said that after the objective of total nuclear disarmament was found difficult to achieve in the foreseeable future, the world has gradually evolved a new normative approach to non-proliferation.

This new norm is now threatened by the so-called selective approach to "outlier states", without uniform criteria applicable to all non NPT states, he said.

"This threat must be resolutely resisted," he urged.

Aziz said Pakistan is facing acute power shortage as it is a fossil fuel deficient country and added that in order to meet its enormously increasing energy needs and to support sustained economic growth and industrial development, reliance on civil nuclear energy is an imperative.

"The energy requirement is expected to grow by at least 7 over the next two decades. Therefore, our national energy strategy includes expansion in the nuclear energy capacity," he said.

He said Pakistan remains committed to the objectives of non-proliferation and disarmament and shares the global concern that proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction poses serious threat to international peace and security.

Aziz claimed that since 1974, when the first nuclear test was conducted by India, Pakistan made several proposals for keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems including simultaneous accession to NPT, but none of the proposals met a favourable response.

"Pakistan (also) proposed a 'Strategic Restraint Regime,' with three interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements i.e. conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint and conventional balance. This proposal remains on the table," he said.

He said Pakistan is strongly committed to the objective of nuclear security and has been proactively engaged with the international community to promote nuclear safety and security.

"Our nuclear security paradigm, evolved over the years, is effective and responsive against the entire range of possible threats. Nuclear security regime in Pakistan is dynamic and regularly reviewed and updated," he said.

Updated Date: May 03, 2016 23:05 PM

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