Fissile Material Conundrum

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Khalid Iqbal*


The United Nation’s Conference on Disarmament (CD) is the world’s sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament and it is in this 65-nation forum where discussions on major treaties including the Chemical Weapons Convention and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) were successfully concluded1. CD’s current task is to negotiate an instrument for fissile material management.  Pakistan is proposing a ‘Fissile Material Treaty’ that should deal with existing stocks as well as future production. None of the major states with fissile material stocks support verifiable elimination of those stocks. There appears to be a ‘harmony of interests’ among those states to ignore existing inventories. This community of key players in the CD has created an aura of characterization that projects Pakistan as a state bent on scuttling progress toward global nuclear disarmament.2

There are indications that the cartel comprising of major fissile material hoarder states could attempt to negotiate the treaty outside the CD, by moving this issue to the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA)3, on the pattern ofOttawa landmine treaty. However, it would be a futile exercise. Those countries whose interests coincide with Pakistan have so far been taking the advantage of the shadow of Pakistan; they would then come out in the open and vote against the treaty. At best FMCT could meet the fate of CTBT which was moved to UNGA, after negotiation of the treaty, under similar circumstances due to blockage of CD proceedings by India. Though CTBT was adopted by UNGA in 1996, it has not yet entered into effect4; because a requisite number of countries including the US have not yet ratified it.

Pakistan’s nuclear capability has been security driven and not status motivated. Nuclear threat became a reality for Pakistan after India’s first nuclear test in 19745. Pakistan’s principle worry is its disparity with the Indian stockpile of fissile material; hence mere cutting-off of production through FMCT threatens a perpetual freeze of strategic disparity in South Asia.

Global Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material Stocks

In her speech to the CD on 28 February 2011, Hillary Clinton stated that “Nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the world has more than 20,000 nuclear weapons. “As I speak to you today, centrifuges around the world are spinning out more enriched uranium, a still significant amount of it is diverted to weapons grade. Plutonium is being churned out in reactors and separated from spent fuel in reprocessing plants. The world faces no shortage of ingredients for nuclear bombs. Yet more fissile materials are made every single day. The question before us today is whether we will – at last – agree to end the dedicated production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. Halting production is in the interest of every country, and I urge this conference to end the stalemate and open negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT) without further delay”6.

Of the referred to 20,000 nuclear weapons, the US has 9,400 and the Russians hold 10,000 warheads. Out of the US stock, only 4000 await elimination while the Russians are going to eliminate a larger fraction of their warheads. However, both have a long way to go before they could be regarded as compliant of Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Summary of existing stockpiles of fissile material is as follows7:-

Plutonium stocks:

–              Russia about 181.7 metric tons

–              US 91.8 metric tons

–              India 3.74 metric tons

–              Japan 36.1 metric tons

–              Pakistan 0 metric tons at present

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) stocks:

–              US 745 metric tons

–              Russia 1282 metric tons;

–              Pakistan 2.6 metric tons;

–              India 1.3 metric tons.

A Washington study on nuclear material security says India is almost at par with Pakistan in terms of nuclear arsenal, but is far behind China, having only a third of the nuclear warheads that China possesses. The report says India is one of the few countries that produce Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and plutonium. It says India’s nuclear weapon arsenal is based on plutonium while the production of HEU is chiefly intended to fuel a fleet of three to five nuclear submarines8.

“Pakistan is thought to possess an arsenal of 90-110 nuclear weapons. This number reflects a significant recent increase, as Pakistan is believed to have doubled its nuclear arsenal over several years. Virtually all of its fissile material stockpiles are designated for military use; Islamabad does not have a civilian plutonium programme and its civilian stocks of HEU are estimated at 17 kilos,” the report noted9.

India’s nuclear weapon arsenal is estimated to be roughly 80-100 warheads, based on plutonium. It is estimated that 0.5 tons of India’s plutonium stockpile are weapons-grade, while the remaining 3.5 tons are reactor-grade. China has some 240 nuclear warheads. In terms of fissile material holding, India tops in plutonium in the region, possessing 4 plus/minus 0.65 tonnes as compared to China’s 1.8 plus/minus 0.5 tonnes and Pakistan’s 100 kilos. India has much lesser HEU, 1.3 plus/ minus 0.5 tonnes compared to China’s 16 plus/minus 4 tonnes and Pakistan’s 2.6 plus/minus 1 tonne. Estimating that China has some 240 nuclear warheads, the report says “little is officially known about the status of China’s nuclear weapons and fissile material stockpiles, which Beijing has never disclosed”. However, China is thought to have stopped producing fissile material for weapons from around 1990, but without a formal declaration. Pointing out that Beijing’s stocks of fissile materials are entirely devoted to military activities, the report says “this may change in the coming years if China goes ahead with plans to develop a commercial-scale reprocessing plant”10.

This report has pointed out that the biggest threat of nuclear material theft comes from Russia, which has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons that is 770 plus/minus 120 tonnes of HEU and 175.7 tonnes of plutonium. The second largest stockpile is with the US, holding 614 tonnes of HEU, 91.9 tonnes of plutonium and 5,113 nuclear weapons deployed and reserved plus several thousand waiting to be dismantled. The report says the majority of the US fissile material stockpile is designated for military purposes. The US uses 260 tonnes uranium for weapons and reserves 230 tonnes as fuel for naval reactors. While 38.3 tonnes of plutonium is either in weapons or weapons laboratories and the rest has been declared as ‘excess’ to be disposed off11.

The nuclear status of some other countries is: UK: 225 nuclear heads, 21.2 tonnes HEU and 92.9 tonnes plutonium; France: 300 nuke heads, 30.9 plus/minus 6 tonnes HEU and 91.9 plus/minus 15 tonnes plutonium; Germany: non-nuke state but with 920 kg HEU and 9.5 tonnes plutonium, 7.5 tonnes of which is stored outside the country; Japan: no nuclear arms, 2,000 kg HEU and 46.1 tonnes of plutonium, 36.1 tonnes of which is stored outside the country. Israel is believed to possess some 80 nuclear weapons, 0.3 tonnes HEU and 0.8 tonnes plutonium. The report notes that these estimates are highly uncertain as the Israel government “maintains extreme secrecy over every aspect of its nuclear development, from its still-unacknowledged nuclear arsenal to its fissile material stockpiles to its nuclear security arrangements”. There is no official word on the nuke stockpile in Iran and Iraq. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Malaysia are believed to have no nuclear material12.

According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, the global stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in 2010 was roughly 1,475 tons, or enough to make more than 60,000 nuclear weapons. Likewise, the panel estimates the global stockpile of separated plutonium to be about 485 tons.13

So it is amply evident that if the international community wants to seriously reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and fissile material from the globe then the US needs to cut its existing stockpiles along with Russia. It is sheer hypocrisy to point fingers at Pakistan which is truly seeking to reduce existing stockpiles and then a cut-off mechanism.

Pakistani position is the only rational approach to the fissile material problem while American histrionics are mere propaganda and reveal that US is least interested in nuclear disarmament and fissile stocks elimination. All that the US demands for an FMCT is to stop those who have no stockpiles from having them while those who have dangerous stockpiles will continue to hold them14. This would result in a perpetual freeze of status quo in terms of nuclear weapon making capability and capacity of each state. Status of nuclear haves and have-nots shall stand engraved in stone, fixed and framed in concrete.

American Perspective

There is an overwhelming, bipartisan consensus among America’s leaders that nuclear terrorism is one of the most dangerous threats facing the United States and the world today. Leaders of both parties and the military agree on the magnitude of this issue. Former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates had said, “Every senior leader, when you’re asked what keeps you awake at night, it’s the thought of a terrorist ending up with a weapon of mass destruction, especially nuclear.” President Barack Obama has called the prospect of nuclear terrorism “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.” And according to former President George W. Bush, “The biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network15.”

In his congressional testimony in February 2011, General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, stated that “the time when only a few states had access to the most dangerous technologies is well past… Some terror groups remain interested in acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear [CBRN] materials and threaten to use them. Poorly secured stocks of CBRN provide potential source material for terror attacks.”

In its final report, the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism warned that al-Qaeda is “actively intent on conducting a nuclear attack against the United States” and that it has been seeking nuclear weapons-usable material ever since the 1990s. “It is therefore imperative,” the commission argued, “that authorities secure nuclear weapons and materials at their source.16”

The US government has already taken a number of important steps to improve nuclear material security around the world. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) managed nuclear non-proliferation programs have been particularly active in this effort, it is working to remove fissile materials from countries, conduct security upgrades at nuclear facilities, convert reactors to use low enriched uranium (LEU) instead of highly enriched uranium (HEU) etc. So far, the NNSA has: Removed a cumulative total of 2,852 kilograms of HEU and plutonium, and shut down or converted 72 research reactors from using HEU fuel to LEU fuel; Secured more than 10 tons of HEU and three tons of plutonium in Kazakhstan in November 2010 – enough material to make 775 nuclear weapons; Completed security upgrades at 73 nuclear warhead sites and 34 nuclear material sites in Russia and the former Soviet Union. NNSA has helped to complete the removal of “all HEU material” from 19 countries, including Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, Libya, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. It is also  “working with 16 additional countries to remove the last of their material,” including Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.17

Even during periods of significant leverage, Washington has not had the power to stop and reverse Pakistan’s nuclear trend lines. As a result of the US-India nuclear deal and the presence of a large number of US troops in Afghanistan, Washington’s influence on Pakistani nuclear choices is unusually low. Washington’s ability to convince Pakistan’s leaders to refrain from building up its nuclear capabilities is likely to further decrease with US arms sales to New Delhi and stronger security cooperation on a range of issues18.

External pressures have been manageable for Pakistan’s nuclear establishment.   Public opposition to “caving in” to Washington’s “demands” on nuclear issues is fierce, and Pakistan’s national security decision makers hold unshakeable views about the centrality and requirements of nuclear deterrence. Pakistan continues to refuse to sign the CTBT and currently leads the opposition to the start of negotiations on a FMCT. Pakistan’s national security managers presume that nuclear issues will continue to take a backseat to ongoing military campaigns in which Pakistan’s assistance is crucial to the US success19.

Pakistan’s diplomatic stance against US preferences has hardened during the Obama administration. Pakistan’s harder-line position is a carryover from the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement (Agreement 123), that predated the Obama administration. Pakistan had no need to take blocking action in Geneva during the Bush years, as the CD was tied up in knots for other reasons. When the Obama administration resumed efforts to negotiate the FMCT, Pakistan accepted the challenge to take blocking action, citing prominently the US-India deal and its acceptance by the Nuclear Suppliers Group as justification for its action. A tactical retreat on the FMCT negotiations could occur when enough inducement or embarrassment can be generated to cause such a shift, up to that point Pakistan can be expected to drag its feet on negotiations until its perceived fissile material requirements for nuclear weapons are met20.

While addressing the 2011 session of ‘Conference on Disarmament’, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticised Pakistan for not subscribing to FMCT. However, while evading the ground realities, Hillary Clinton opted to use higher moral ground to disparage Pakistani stance, calling it an abuse to the consensus principle and legitimate desire of 64 other States. She warned that unless availability of fissile material is reduced, chances that it may fall into the hands of terrorists would be there. It has been repeatedly said by the US officials including President Obama that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is safe, well guarded and under stringent control. That precludes the possibility of fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists. Still US officials are repeatedly asserting that fissile material may fall into the hands of terrorists. Such rhetoric casts aspersions on Pakistan’s nuclear programme and reinforces negative perceptions, which are divorced from ground realities21.

In January 2011, The Washington Post published a story claiming that Pakistan has 100 to 110 warheads. It was said that Pakistan has doubled its stockpile of nuclear arsenal over the last four years. The story was based upon guesswork as opposed to authentic information and was published on the heels of prelinary session of this year’s session of CD. It is the continuation of the pressure which is being exerted on to Pakistan to force her to comply with American wishes22.

According to Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who led President Barack Obama’s 2009 policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan and the United States are allies in the war against militancy, but ties have been so troubled in recent years that some in Pakistan believe that the risk of a conflict cannot be dismissed altogether and that the bomb may well be the country’s only hedge against an America that looks less a friend and more a hostile power. Riedel in a piece in The Wall Street Journal says Pakistan’s army chief AshfaqKayani may well have concluded that the only way to hold off a possible American military action is the presence of nuclear weapons on its soil and hence the frenetic race to increase the size of the arsenal to the point that Pakistan is on track to become the fourth largest nuclear power after the United States, Russia and China23.

But such nuclear brinkmanship cannot come without consequences of its own, and one of them will be India reviewing its nuclear posture. Riedel says India has exercised restraint on its weapons programme, but seeing acceleration in the Pakistani efforts, it may well step up production of its own. Pakistan sees the window closing once the world moves on an agreement on fissile material cut-off treaty which it has been resisting all along. India, by contrast, can use its domestic reserves of nuclear material, should it so require to expand its arsenal, because it has been allowed the import of nuclear fuel and technology under Agreement 123 with the United States. Pakistan sought a similar deal but was denied, because of its nuclear proliferation track record.24

New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office . . . for the Obama administration the assessment poses a direct challenge to a central element of the President’s national security strategy, the reduction of nuclear stockpiles around the world25.” The above words, written in February, 2011 were followed by a Times editorial, titled “Pakistan’s Nuclear Folly,” decrying that “the weapons build-up has gotten too little attention,” and calling on Washington to “look for points of leverage” to stop it. Well, the administration and the Times may be unhappy about Pakistan’s nuclear build-up, but it certainly should not have come as a surprise, nor is there much of a secret to the “points of leverage” that would almost certainly put a stopper on it: scupper the so-called 123 Agreement between the US and India26.

Back in 2003, Douglas Feith, then Under Secretary of Defence for Policy in the Bush Administration, pulled together a meeting of the U.S.-India Defence Policy Group to map out a blueprint for pulling New Delhi into an alliance against China. The code word used during the discussions was “stability,” but as P.R. Chari of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies noted, “What they really mean is how to deal with China.”The Bush administration changed the Clinton Administration’s designation of China as a “strategic partner” to “strategic competitor,” and in its US-China Security Review concluded that Beijing is “in direct competition with us for influence in Asia and beyond” and that in “the worst case this could lead to war.” Another Pentagon document revealed by Jane’s Foreign Report argued that both India and the US were threatened by China, and that “India should emerge as a vital component of US strategy.”One of the obstacles to that alliance was the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which blocks any country that is not a signatory from buying nuclear fuel on the world market. Since neither India nor Pakistan has signed the Treaty, they can’t buy fuel from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group. That has been particularly hard on India because it has few native uranium sources and has to split those between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. The ban, however, is central to the NPT, and one of the few checks on nuclear proliferation. But the Bush administration proposed bypassing the NPT with the so- called 123 Agreement that permitted India to purchase nuclear materials even though New Delhi refused to sign the Treaty. India would agree to use the nuclear fuel only in its civilian plants and open those plants for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But the Agreement also allowed India to divert its own domestic supplies to its weapons program, and those plants would remain off the inspection grid. In short, India would no longer have to choose between nuclear power and nuclear weapons: it could have both. In July 2008, Pakistan’s then Foreign Minister KhurshidKusuri predicted that if the 123 Agreement went through, “The whole Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will unravel,” and, in a letter to the IAEA, Pakistan warned that the pact “threatens to increase the chances of a nuclear arms race in the subcontinent.”However, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration paid any attention to Pakistan’s complaints. The results were predictable. Pakistan ramped up its nuclear weapons program and may soon pass Britain as the fifth largest nuclear weapons nation in the world. It also dug in its heels at the 65-nation 2011 Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and blocked a proposal to halt the production of nuclear weapons-making material. The 123 Agreement and the push to bring India into the Nuclear Suppliers group, warned Ambassador ZamirAkram, were “undermining the validity and sanctity of the international non-proliferation regime” and would “further destabilize security in South Asia.” The Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) is a priority for the Obama administration. Islamabad is not alone in its criticism of the 123 Agreement or the FMCT. A number of nations are challenging NPT signatories, including the US, China, Russia, Britain and France, to comply with Article VI of the NPT that requires the elimination of nuclear weapons. While the US and Russia have reduced their arsenals, both still have thousands of weapons, and the Americans are in the process of modernizing their current warheads. Pakistan is a far smaller country than India, and is likely to face defeat in a conventional conflict. It has already lost three wars to India. Its ace in the hole is nuclear weapons, and some Pakistanis have a distressingly missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Pakistani Hatf-7, or “Babur,” has a range of almost 500 miles and a speed of 550 miles per hour. It appears to have been copied from the US BGM-109 “Tomahawk,” several of which crashed in Pakistan during 1998 air strikes against Afghanistan. The Indian PJ-10 BrahMos cruise has a shorter range—180 miles—but a top speed of 2,100 mph. India and Pakistan also have ballistic missiles capable of striking major cities in both countries.

In its editorial declaiming Pakistan as guilty of “nuclear folly,” the Times pointed out that “Pakistan cannot feed its people [or] educate its children.” Neither can India. As a 2010 United Nations Development Program report discovered, as bad as things are in Pakistan, life expectancy is lower in India, and the gap between rich and poor is greater. Neither country can afford large militaries. Pakistan spends 35 percent of its budget on arms, and India is in the middle of a $40 billion military spending spree. A nuclear war would not only destroy both countries, but also profoundly affect the entire globe. The US currently spends in excess of $1 trillion a year on all defence and security related items, while its education system is starving, infrastructure is collapsing, and hunger and illiteracy are spreading. If any one sincerely wants to ratchet down nuclear tensions in South Asia, it should call for dumping the 123 Agreement and beginning the process called for in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measure relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control27.”

Security and Safety of Pakistani Nukes

Whenever there is a professional comment Pakistan’s nuclear programme has been termed safe and secure.International Atomic Energy during an “International seminar on nuclear safety and security”, held in Islamabad (21-23 April, 2011), IAEA, declared the nuclear program of Pakistan as safe and secure and appreciated the obvious dedication to the safety and security of the regulators as well as of operators.Deputy Director General IAEA Denis Flory said “the IAEA emphasizes the importance of national responsibility for security, which Pakistan takes seriously. In fact, Pakistan has had an Action Plan in place to strengthen nuclear security since 2006,” he added28. Giving details he said this plan covers such items as Management of Radioactive Sources; Nuclear Security Emergency Co-ordination Center (NuSECC); Locating and Securing Orphan Radioactive Sources29. Pakistan has worked with the Agency both to implement that Plan and to provide resources for its implementation.

Pakistan is the 10th largest contributor to the Nuclear Security Fund, contributing $1.16 million. This is an example of its commitment as well as serious approach to nuclear security in the course of implementing its action plan. Additionally, over 200 people from Pakistan have attended IAEA training courses. IAEA has worked with Pakistan to provide detection instruments; staff from Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) is receiving “on the job training” with IAEA; security environment has improved at a number of facilities in Pakistan using radioactive sources. The relationship between the IAEA Office of Nuclear Security and PNRA is close and sets a good example for others. IAEA has benefited from lessons learnt, in particular through membership of the Chair of PNRA (past and current) on nuclear security30.

The governing board for the International Atomic Energy Agency on has approved a plan on 19 April, 2011, for monitoring two nuclear power reactors that China plans to build in Pakistan31. The IAEA safeguards agreement for Units 3 and 4 at the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant was approved unanimously without discussion.

China has been willing to assist Pakistan with its nuclear energy efforts. Beijing built one reactor at Chashma prior to 2004, and then asserted that construction of the second plant was also allowed because the two nations’ collaboration on atomic energy predated Chinese membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Beijing has suggested more recently that the “grandfather” exception would apply to further nuclear construction in Pakistan32. plants to be built at the installation, according to the IAEA safeguards document. It is identical to the safeguards plan for the installation’s second reactor unit, the Pakistani official said. All “reactor facilities” – the reactors themselves and associated systems – would be covered, along with nuclear materials in use at the sites. The plan calls for the agency to send inspectors to the Chashma site and to conduct surveillance and other safeguards operations. Agency officials will also prepare an inventory of nuclear materials and facilities at the reactor plants. Pakistan, in turn, pledged that no equipment or sensitive material would be used for nuclear-weapon or other military programs, and committed to take “all suitable measures necessary” to protect Chinese-supplied materials and devices. “It (Pakistan) is required to alert the agency upon receiving Chinese reactor facilities or material, and to similarly offer notification of the construction or operation of any reactor facility. The government must also receive IAEA authorization for transfers of any item listed in the inventory to a third party or another facility. Any non-compliance by Islamabad with the agreement could lead the IAEA governing board to impose penalties including curbs or suspension of support for the project by the agency or member nations and demands for repatriation of nuclear materials and technology”. The Pakistani official said the addition of reactors at Chashma is a key component of the nation’s plan to produce 8,800 megawatts of nuclear power by 2030. Pakistan is continuing its efforts to establish civilian nuclear trade with the United States and other nations.33

The United Nations’ Perspective

During the opening of the CD’s 2011 session, the body’s president, Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada, said there was no agreement on a programme of work for the CD, effectively preventing it from beginning substantive negotiations. The CD last adopted a programme of work in 2009 after nearly a decade of disagreement, but Pakistan broke the consensus soon after over the FMCT, preventing negotiations from commencing34.

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon held a high-level meeting in September 2010 to help “revitalize” the stalled CD. Several states expressed frustration with the CD stalemate during that meeting and raised  the  option  of  pursuing  FMCT  negotiations  outside  the  CD if progress was not made in 2011. Pakistan, China, and a number of developing countries opposed such a prospect. In their opening remarks to the 2011 session of the CD, many delegations, including those from the European Union, Japan, Mexico, and the United States, reiterated the  potential  for  an  alternative  negotiating  process  on  an  FMCT. Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, told the body on 27 January, 2011 that “the longer the CD languishes, the louder and more persistent such calls will become.” She stressed in a press briefing later that day, however, that it is the “absolute first priority” of the United States to seek negotiations inside the CD. She declined to speculate on other options. Although delegations would not say how much time the CD should be given to resolve the current impasse, Mexico’s ambassador to the CD, Juan José Camacho, proposed that members establish a deadline for the CD to adopt a program of work. Stressing the importance of preserving the function of the CD as the sole multilateral negotiating body for arms control, Ban warned in his remarks to the CD on 26 January 2011, “We must not risk pushing states to resort to alternative arrangements outside the Conference on Disarmament.” He expressed support for starting an informal process on an FMCT in the CD prior to beginning negotiations in order to build trust among members. The United States indicated that if there was no agreement to start FMCT negotiations, it would back a dual track of formal and informal FMCT talks. “We strongly support the idea of robust plenary discussion on broad FMCT issues, reinforced by expert-level technical discussions on specific FMCT topics,” Gottemoeller said35.

Throughout February, 2011, CD members held plenary discussions on an FMCT, as well as other issues on the body’s agenda. In addition, Australia and Japan co-hosted a first round of expert-level talks in mid-February, 2011 focused on the subject of defining key aspects of a treaty, including what would be considered fissile material and what constitutes production of that material. Diplomats from CD members said in February, 2011 that a second round of experts’ talks on verification is expected this month. Although several states supported the Australian- Japanese initiative, China and Pakistan said in remarks to the CD on 17 February 2011, that they did not attend the session. Chinese CD ambassador Wang Qun told the body that conclusions drawn from such informal discussions did not have standing in the CD.  Pakistani representative to the CD, Akram raised concerns that such informal talks could undermine the role of the CD as the sole negotiating body for such issues. Pakistan has not taken any action to date to seek to block either the plenary discussions or the expert-level talks. American assessment has it that although Pakistan could “create some problems on the plenary discussions,” it would not be able to prevent the expert- level talks, which are being hosted on a national basis although they still are linked to the CD. Diplomats from states supporting the experts’ talks told Arms Control Today that even if the talks are being held on an informal basis, delegations initially opposing them may realize after some time that their interests are served better by participating in them, rather than being left out. They also stressed that such discussions are important for addressing complex technical issues before negotiations begin and could lay the groundwork for eventual negotiations in the meantime36.

As the United Nations CD began a seven-week session in Geneva, its future is on the line. The Conference has stagnated. Its credibility indeed, its very legitimacy – is at risk. The CD has long served as the world’s only multilateral forum for negotiating disarmament. Its many impressive accomplishments include the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Much of this progress was achieved during the Cold War, proving that it is possible to create global legal norms even in times of deep political division. However, all is not well at the CD37.

It operates under a consensus rule, and its member states have different priorities. Some want negotiations on nuclear disarmament; others want to ban the production of fissile material for weapon purposes; and still others insist that such a treaty should also cover existing stocks. Some want a treaty on security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon states to assure them against the threat or use of nuclear weapons; others want a treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space. Instead of compromise and the give-and-take of good-faith discussions, there has been a paralysis. As a result, the CD has failed to make any substantive progress for 15 years38.

There was a brief glimmer of hope in 2009, when the sense of paralysis led the Conference to consensus on a programme of work. Unfortunately, that agenda was never implemented. The CD’s future is in the hands of its member states. But the disarmament and non- proliferation agenda is too important to let the CD lapse into irrelevancy as states consider other negotiating arenas. Last September, UNSG convened a high-level meeting at the UN to consider ways to revitalise the CD’s work and to advance multilateral disarmament negotiations. The participants – who included dozens of foreign ministers – were unanimous in stressing that membership of the CD is a privilege. So is the consensus rule. Just one or two countries should not be able to block the organisation’s work indefinitely. The message was clear: no more business as usual. Continued stalemate increases the risk that some like-minded countries might take up the matter elsewhere. After all, the deadlock has ominous implications for international security; the longer it persists, the graver the nuclear threat – from existing arsenals, from the proliferation of such weapons, and from their possible acquisition by terrorists. UNSG have urged the CD to adopt an agenda based either on the consensus that was forged in 2009, or on an alternative arrangement. The UN’s entire membership will take up the matter in a first-of-its- kind General Assembly meeting in July, 2011. That schedule makes the CD’s current session crucial to its future. Reaffirming the CD’s agenda offers the prospect of renewed negotiations on disarmament issues. Prior agreement on the scope or outcome should not be a precondition for talks or an excuse to avoid them – but rather a subject of the negotiations themselves. The current stalemate is all the more troubling in view of recent momentum on other disarmament tracks, including last year’s successful NPT Review Conference and heightened attention to nuclear security. With the world focused so intently on advancing disarmament goals, the CD should seize the moment. The tide of disarmament is rising, yet the CD is in danger of sinking. And it will sink unless it fulfills its responsibility to act39.

Viability of UN Perspective

Faced with a stalemate in negotiations for a treaty banning the production of bomb making nuclear material, Western nations led by the United States are now contemplating taking these talks outside the CD. This would be a risky course to take and with little guarantee of success40.

Perception is being built that the effort to negotiate a FMCT in the CD was getting nowhere due to Pakistan’s opposition and that there is a need for a new approach41. Citing the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and the 1997 Landmine Treaty as precedents to take talks out of the conference, the proposal is being advanced that a similar course be followed for a fissile material ban42.

UNSG Ban ki Moon convened a high level meeting on the FMCT on 24 September 2010 to mobilise a consensus outside the CD. This did not make much headway. In February 2011, Australia and Japan convened an ‘Experts Side Event on FMCT Definitions’ in Geneva to initiate informal discussions on aspects of the treaty. China and several other countries stayed away on the grounds that the event lacked wider, more relevant participation. Pakistan did not participate and criticised the event as an initiative to undermine the CD, while other countries including India and Iran made it clear they regarded the proceedings as non-binding and as neither a negotiation nor a pre-negotiation43.

Quoting the precedent of negotiations on Cluster Munitions, Landmines or an Arms Trade Treaty as concluded outside the UN is misleading. These negotiations entailed groups of like-minded nations coming together to curb the kind of armaments that most countries can easily manufacture. So assembling the largest number of countries made sense even if the US, Russia and China are still not a party to these agreements. On the other hand the aim of FMCT is to end fissile material production by the nuclear weapon states. The treaty would be meaningful only if all eight nuclear weapon powers (P5 plus the three non-NPT countries) are a part of it. Nations that have signed on to the NPT are already committed to the FMCT in practical terms. If Pakistan or any of the other non-NPT nuclear states stay out of negotiations the very objective of an FMCT is defeated. This is also because the US, France, Britain and Russia have already suspended fissile material production while China has an undeclared moratorium. Without Pakistan, India and Israel may also stay away from any parallel process. This will increase the likelihood of China and Russia also keeping out and if Iran and North Korea do not join either, the negotiations will turn out to be worthless44. Shifting negotiations to another venue would also set a precedent for taking other CD core agenda items outside the UN. Apart from the FMCT, the CD’s present agenda includes a Nuclear Disarmament Convention, Negative Security Assurances for non-nuclear states and Prevention of an Arm Race in Outer Space; the US and its allies are blocking serious talks on all three issues.45

Moreover, America and its allies cannot be sure that they will be able to control the proceedings in a parallel process that will not have the consensus rule to protect their interests. The answer to the present impasse in the CD is not to circumvent the established and legitimate multilateral disarmament process but insure that the FMCT negotiations take into account the security concerns of all states and not just the priorities of the powerful few. The problem does not lie in the CD’s rule of consensus; it indeed lies in the relentless effort to push through a proposed treaty that undermines the security of a member state Pakistan46.

Without the treaty taking into account the asymmetry in existing fissile material stocks the imbalance between Pakistan and India would be frozen, leaving Pakistan at a permanent strategic disadvantage. As currently envisaged, the FMCT obliges Pakistan to accept a limit on its deterrent capability, which does not apply to India because of the preferential treatment it has received. A series of meetings of Pakistan’s National Command Authority have signalled that the West’s nuclear exceptional treatment for India and the special treatment it has been accorded by the Nuclear Supplies Group will further accentuate the asymmetry in fissile material stockpiles to the detriment of Pakistan’s security interests. Assured import of civilian nuclear fuel allows India the flexibility to divert its domestic production of fissile material for weapons making. Unless Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns are addressed and a level playing field is created, any expectation that Pakistan will yield to pressure or efforts at diplomatic isolation will not materialise. Traditionally, countries sign up to international agreements when their fundamental interests are accommodated and treaties accord non-discriminatory treatment to its signatories47.

Indian Perspective

India’s nuclear behaviour is often unpredictable. First there was the case of the ‘Peaceful Nuclear Explosion’ (PNE) in 1974, by exploding a device made out of stolen fissile material from a Canadian reactor provided for peaceful usage. This was then followed by the formal acknowledgement by India as a state possessing nuclear weapons in 1998, whereas only a decade ago the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan had put forth a clear-cut roadmap aimed at universal nuclear disarmament by 2010. Nehru floated the idea of CTBT in 1954, which was later blocked by India at CD in 1996. These contradictions have only highlighted the ambiguity in India’s nuclear behaviour and put a question mark on the ulterior motives that guide it. Moreover, the debates that have attempted to solve this puzzle have often limited themselves to two major concerns that drive India’s behaviour, which is National security and energy. However, in their own capacities they have often left out a cardinal element, that of morality.48

Three major strands form the base of debates surrounding its nuclear behaviour; national security, international regimes and nuclear energy. Contradictions within the national security aspect can be highlighted by delving into the doctrines of credible minimum deterrence and no first use. India’s insistence that it needs to maintain a (conditional) ‘credible minimum deterrence’ in order to buttress its national security, and at the same time uphold the doctrine of ‘no first use’, is coloured with undertones that depict issues of moral responsibility.49

India’s relationship vis-à-vis nuclear regimes, especially the NPT, have been forever wrought with many paradoxes. On one hand India pretends to support the cause of universal disarmament, and on the other it insists on maintaining a nuclear deterrent itself. Its reluctance to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state is based on the premise that the NPT perpetuates superficial discrimination between the haves and the haves-not, whereas it is keen to join the treaty as nuclear weapon state. India’s claims to support the new disarmament momentum initiated by Obama’s Prague speech in 2009 while enhancing deterrence, has entailed frequent friction between international expectations, national security concerns and issues of morality and justness50.

India’s position on the need for nuclear energy is rather mischievous. Its three tier master plan for energy is deliberately based to Fast Breeder Reactors that could allow it to generate unlimited and unaccounted for fissile material. Earlier its opposition to the idea of joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state in order to avail assistance in its civil nuclear ambitions had often proved to be a roadblock, one which has been eliminated by the recent NSG waiver, and professed nuclear cooperation with states like the US and France.51

India has far more sway on Pakistan’s nuclear choices than does the United States. Pakistan is concerned about growing Indian military capabilities and India’s planning for limited conventional war under a nuclear overhang. India could shape Pakistan’s choices far more effectively than America by embracing the CTBT and a fissile material production moratorium. This would force Pakistan to decide whether to become more of an outlier or adopt necessary reciprocal steps. But India is not close to achieving a working political consensus to sign the CTBT or accept a moratorium on fissile material production.52

The people of Pakistan face multiple hardships: catastrophic flooding, a Taliban-affiliated insurgency, political assassinations, and chronic poverty. Yet, the country’s powerful military establishment has directed much of the nation’s wealth and perhaps even international nuclear technical assistance to building a nuclear arsenal that does nothing to address these urgent threats53.

Also, Pakistan’s weapons and nuclear material stockpiles are a prime target for terrorists. Its nuclear technology could once again be sold on the black market by insiders, just as AQ Khan did for years. In 1998 , the United States supported a UN Security Council resolution condemning India’s and Pakistan’s tit-for-tat nuclear explosions and calling on the two countries to sign the CTBT and halt fissile production for weapons. At the time, the two states might have agreed to a production cut-off and signed the CTBT. But other commercial and strategic priorities, including the 2008 civil nuclear trade exemption for India and the US-led offensive against the Taliban, had pushed non-proliferation opportunities to the margins. Given that France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all declared a halt to fissile material production for weapons, and China is believed to have halted production, a global fissile production halt would have its greatest impact on India, Pakistan, and possibly China. Unfortunately, Pakistan continues to block the start of the negotiation, citing India’s greater fissile production potential from the Plutonium in the spent fuel of its un-safeguarded power reactors, which could provide enough material for several hundred more bombs. India can and should declare that it will not increase its rate of fissile production and will put additional non-military reactors under safeguards. Such a move could increase Indian security by pressuring Pakistan and China to make similar pledges.54

Pakistan makes false claims before the CD each year. Over and above other reasons articulated in previous years, Pakistan had an additional excuse this time. On earlier occasions, Pakistan had stated that the 2008 India-specific exemptions given by the NSG had adversely affected the strategic balance in its neighbourhood. Though it did not mention India this year, yet the language and its earlier explicit references to India leave no doubt about what it wants to convey. Referring to South Asia’s strategic environment and to a non- NPT member, Pakistan said: “…it cannot agree to negotiations on a FMCT in the CD owing to the discriminatory waiver provided by the NSG to our neighbour for nuclear cooperation by several major powers, as this arrangement will further accentuate the asymmetry in fissile materials stockpiles in the region, to the detriment of Pakistan’s security interests.” This time, Pakistan’s objection was that India’s membership of the four multilateral export control regimes, with the support of the US and other countries, would destabilise the region. In November 2010, the US supported India’s candidature for membership of the NSG, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Later, France also endorsed the US move. It was followed by the Russian support for the membership. Many more countries are expected to support India’s candidature given its rising global status. Pakistan’s statement in the CD showed its resentment regarding the likely modification of criteria to accommodate India in the NSG and the Wassenaar Arrangement. It is necessary to examine the objections raised by Pakistan regarding the 2008 India-specific waiver in the NSG. Is it really going to allow India to accumulate so much fissile material that the region around Pakistan would be destabilised? Would the exemption enhance the fissile production capabilities of India? Actually, such propaganda may well serve as an excuse for Pakistan to increase its own fissile material production. In the past, some Pakistani diplomats misled the world by saying that India’s eight un-safeguarded reactors can comfortably produce 1400 kilograms of weapons grade plutonium sufficient for around 280 nuclear weapons a year – if run for that purpose, or even more if totally dedicated to fissile material production purposes.  When  the  India-US  civil  nuclear  energy  agreement  was being debated before the 2008 waiver, one of India’s leading strategic analysts argued in favour of the agreement saying that it would enable India to ‘release’ its indigenous uranium for nuclear weapons, and to use imported uranium for nuclear energy generation. This was one of the many arguments used by both the supporters and opponents of the agreement. However, many of these arguments were unsubstantiated and polemical. The US non-proliferation community followed by the Pakistan government used some of these polemics for their convenience and propaganda. Moreover, India’s indigenous Uranium can be allocated in any way by the government, so, the word—release—is basically meaningless. If there is a choice between national security and electricity generation, India may prefer the former. The new Pakistani argument against FMCT negotiations in the CD that the Indian membership of the multilateral export controls regimes may adversely affect regional stability is superficial. The membership of the regimes has nothing to do with regional stability; in fact, it is about enabling India to play a role in promoting international peace and stability by participating in the global strategic trade management. Pakistan’s obsession with projecting itself as a competitor to India is frequently leading it to make ridiculous and incomprehensible moves like the one in the CD. Instead, it may do well to imitate India’s responsible nuclear behaviour. It does not realise that the proliferation network and terrorism may not be able to sustain the Pakistani state for long. Pakistan needs to change55.

Indian perspective also has it that despite a track record of proliferation, the US and others seem ready to make excuses for Pakistan56. First, the International Atomic Energy Agency granted its approval of two new nuclear reactors that China is planning to build at Chashma in Pakistan. This is in addition to the two that Beijing is already engaged in developing at the same site, something which it had disclosed at the time of its joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2004. China’s commitment to building Chashma 3 and 4 has only surfaced in the last couple of years, after the granting of the NSG waiver on international nuclear commerce to India. The second   news was the US decision to tamely accept the Chinese move to extend nuclear cooperation to Pakistan, a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite a clear violation of the international guidelines on nuclear trade {India is also non-signatory of NPT}. Indeed, the US assistant secretary responsible for South Asian affairs even defended the deal by highlighting Pakistan’s energy deficit!57

Pakistan’s ability to use its nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip— for conventional weaponry, for financial support from other Muslim nations, for evading sanctions over nuclear proliferation, for escaping retaliation by using the shield of nuclear weapons while allegedly fomenting cross-border terrorism in India—has been proven time and again. No wonder nuclear weapons are seen as the most important strategic asset of the Pakistani military establishment58.

Ever since India was granted the NSG waiver that made it eligible for international nuclear trade, Pakistan has cried foul. The pity is when other nations, including the United States, begin to accept the Pakistani argument that it’s being discriminated against. The fact of the matter is that India earned the waiver by strictly observing the principle of non-proliferation, and it has a six-decade track record to show for it. The Pakistani establishment, meanwhile, has run a well-documented nuclear proliferation enterprise in which it has at times clandestinely accepted nuclear weapons technology and material, and clandestinely retransferred it to others. The international community hasn’t been able to punish Islamabad for any of these acts. But to condone them and actually accept that there should be parity in treatment between India and Pakistan on nuclear cooperation should be unacceptable. The two countries are wide apart in their nuclear behaviour. There can be no room for equal treatment59.

Even if Pakistan’s concerns are valid, the strategy of blocking the CD is foolhardy. India can easily counter Pakistan’s accusations. Pakistan is increasing its nuclear weapons, not India. Islamabad now possesses the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal and is increasing its fissile material base. As far as India is concerned, its fissile material inventories  and  weapons  capabilities  are  not  directly  proportional; after all, India has fewer nuclear weapons than Pakistan. India, unlike Pakistan, is not a military state whose legitimacy depends upon flexing its nuclear muscle. Moreover, Pakistan is the focus of international concerns on nuclear proliferation and WMD terrorism. And when it comes to fissile material in the spent fuel of India’s nuclear reactors, India has categorically stated that reactor-grade plutonium is important for its fast breeder reactor program and hence, for its energy security {one of the India’s nuclear explosions of 1998 used reactor grade Plutonium }. This argument has been accepted by the US, the NSG, and the IAEA and is manifest in the India-US nuclear deal. Pakistan needs to make an honest assessment of the futility of obstructionism. There are four reasons why Pakistan should sign the FMCT60:-

First, if Pakistan is really concerned about the strategic balance in the subcontinent, then it is more logical to get the FMCT ratified as soon as possible. Why allow a fissile behemoth like India to amass more fissile material by blocking the FMCT from coming into effect? Going strictly by the logic of nuclear deterrence, the marginal utility of Pakistan’s arsenals decreases as India hoards more fissile material, given that India converts all its fissile material to weapons. If Pakistan is really concerned about a decapitating Indian first strike – which is the source of nuclear stability — then the survivability of Pakistan’s arsenal will increase if India’s fissile material production is capped as soon as possible.

Second, once the FMCT is signed and ratified, responsibility to maintain strategic stability in the region will shift to India. Since India will possess more fissile material than Pakistan, any move on India’s part to increase its nuclear capabilities by diverting fissile material stocks will become a global concern. Then, Pakistan will have a more robust case against India and international pressure will be easy to mobilize. One way would be to use the Henry J. Hyde act- H.R 7081- under which the US president has to report to the Congress on India’s non-proliferation and disarmament commitments.

Third, internal considerations should also be pre-eminent among Pakistan’s political decision makers when it comes to the FMCT. If Pakistan chooses to compete with India over the size of nuclear arsenals and fissile material, it might be digging its own grave. Even if the threat of theft of nuclear material is now low, the probability will increase as Pakistan’s nuclear complex grows. For a state facing a grave economic situation and the threat of fundamentalism and extremism, a nuclear superstructure would be the last gift one can pray for. Difficulty in nuclear management accompanies the growth in size of nuclear arsenals, as more variables come in to play. In other words, the probability of human and technical error increases. As is evident from the history of minor but potentially devastating accidents involving nuclear weapons in states like the US, UK, and Russia, even resource rich and technically efficient states have not been able to master all aspects of nuclear safety and security for their nuclear complexes.

Finally, Pakistan’s cooperation in FMCT negotiations may help the country make friends around the world. If Pakistan seeks recognition of its nuclear status, a policy of confrontation at the international level will not help. Beyond material power, being a good international citizen is  increasingly  considered  the  key  to  recognition  and  influence in international politics. Pakistan surely lacks the first. Cooperation appears to be a more pragmatic path if Pakistan wants the world to listen61.

Pakistan’s Perspective

Speaking at the 2011 ‘substantive session’ of the UN disarmament Commission in New York, Pakistan’s permanent representative Abdullah HussainHaroon once again demonstrated Pakistan’s commitment to the lofty ideal of nuclear non-proliferation by demanding total elimination of nuclear weapons from the globe, which is the only guarantee to secure durable peace and security for all. He said the most effective and credible way to promote this object, both regionally and globally, is through the pursuit of transparent, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament62.

Some countries of the world, led by the United States, are accusing Pakistan of blocking consensus on FMCT but unequivocal statement of pakistan’s UN Ambassador has exposed their claims as it highlighted the reality that Islamabad just wants a non-discriminatory, transparent, equitable and fair system that meaningfully contributes towards regional and global security and not mere loquacious and eye-wash statements and arrangements. Pakistan’s nuclear programme is defensive in nature and unlike India it has never resorted to nuclear blackmail.63

ZamirAkram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the CD, reiterated in his statement on 25 January, 2011 that Pakistan opposes opening negotiations on an FMCT in the CD because of a 2008 agreement by the world’s key nuclear technology suppliers to lift long-standing restrictions on nuclear trade with India. This action, he said, “will further accentuate the asymmetry in fissile materials stockpiles in the region, to the detriment of Pakistan’s security interests.” Pakistan and other critics of the move by NSG, have argued that, because India now has access to the international nuclear market, it can purchase foreign uranium for its nuclear power reactors and therefore keep its limited domestic uranium reserves for its military program, potentially allowing it to field a larger nuclear arsenal. Akram added that Pakistan’s opposition was further hardened by a US call for India’s eventual admission to the NSG, a move he characterized as an “irresponsible undertaking” that “shall further destabilize security in South Asia.” According to Akram, because such admission would allow India to enhance its own nuclear arsenal, “Pakistan will be forced to take measures to ensure the credibility of its deterrence.” Pakistan has sought to counter India’s conventional and nuclear weapons capabilities by expanding its nuclear arsenal and moving from larger highly enriched uranium-based weapons to more compact plutonium-based warheads64.

These measures reportedly include the construction of two additional plutonium-producing nuclear reactors at Pakistan’s Khushab nuclear complex. Pakistan already has two such reactors at the site, producing an estimated combined total of 22 kilograms of plutonium each year, enough for up to four nuclear weapons. Islamabad began constructing a third reactor in 2006 and, according to satellite imagery analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, started work on a fourth in recent months. After steadily increasing its nuclear weapons stockpile over a number of years, Pakistan is estimated to have up to 110 warheads, all of which are believed to be maintained in central storage, rather than deployed with their delivery systems.65

From  Pakistan’s  perspective,  America  sponsored  FMCT  does not lead to verifiable elimination of fissile material stocks and is only concerned with stopping future production of nuclear material. It is inherently discriminatory and renders the strategic balance in the South Asian region in favour of India. In other words, the issue of fissile material stocks is important not only for the goal of global zero but Pakistan’s national survival as well. The concern about fissile material stocks is genuine. Without taking stocks into account, any treaty on fissile material will remain an arms control measure at the most. Global zero is contingent upon a scenario where no state has nuclear material that could be diverted to nuclear weapons production66.

Pakistan’s arguments are even more penetrating when it comes to the nuclear balance in South Asian and how it is linked with the fissile material inventories of India. India has a considerable stock of fissile material. Its nuclear program started producing plutonium for weapons use in 1963 when Canada offered India its first research reactor CIRUS.

Subsequently, India built a reprocessing facility at Trombay which uses heavy water from the US. CIRUS and the Trombay reprocessing facility were jointly responsible for India’s first (peaceful) nuclear test. Over the years, India has accumulated a lot of reactor-grade plutonium as well as weapons-grade plutonium. The reactor-grade plutonium comes from 17 heavy water nuclear reactors that use natural uranium as fuel. The spent fuel that these reactors generate contains a lot of reactor- grade plutonium: almost 1300kg of reactor-grade plutonium is in India’s spent fuel stockpile. Even after the Indo-US nuclear deal, only 13 of these reactors would come under safeguards. Moreover, India has also produced more than 700kg of weapons-grade plutonium, from research reactors CIRUS and DHRUVA and the reprocessing facilities at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam. Even if 100kg of plutonium was used for the nuclear tests of 1998, there is still an enormous amount of weapon-grade plutonium. India also has an active uranium enrichment program that is intended to produce highly enriched uranium (20-40 percent) for nuclear submarines. Since there are no guarantees that India will not transfer these fissile material assets to nuclear weapons in the future, Pakistan is right to claim that if the stocks are not taken into account, the FMCT would concede a ‘strategic advantage’ to India67.

This is further accentuated by the possibility of massive production of weapons grade Plutonium if and when India’s ambitious Fast Breeder Reactor program attains maturity. India is the only country, save Russia and Japan (whose program is on and off) pursuing a large-scale breeder program. The US, Germany, France, and the UK have all abandoned their breeder programs. According to one authoritative estimate, if the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor – one of the world’s biggest breeder reactors with a capacity of 500 MW – comes into existence {it is already operational since late 2010/early 2011}, it can produce 144kg of weapon-grade plutonium with a fissile content of more than 95 percent annually68.

President Obama’s vision of nuclear weapons free world is held hostage to intricately intertwined Indian policies of nuclear security and power generation. India has piled up 1300 tons of reactor grade fissile material churned out by its nuclear power reactors over the previous years. Reactor grade Plutonium was used in one of the Indian nuclear explosions of 199869.

To understand the real significance of the FMCT for Pakistan, one needs to dig deeper into India’s nuclear energy program. Pakistan’s principal worry is India’s accumulation of reactor grade plutonium for its fast breeder reactors. India’s rationale for accumulating such a vast inventory of reactor grade plutonium stems from its three-stage nuclear energy program. The Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) are envisaged as the mainstay of this plan. By producing more Plutonium than they consume, FBRs provide a widow for diverting surplus fissile material for weapon programmes; especially so when India has not accepted any safeguards on its fast breeder reactors. FBRs form the backbone of India’s grand plans for nuclear energy. Their number would increase by 5 times by 2020 and more than 60 times by 2050. To realize this design, India is poised to construct hundreds of FBRs. India’s ambitious plan for fast breeder reactor technology has serious implications for the nuclear stability in the region. This conundrum has compelled Pakistan to block the negotiations on FMCT at the CD. Despite pressuring Pakistan to fall in line on the issue, Americans know it well that spoiler is someone else. Pakistan’s principal worry is the perpetually snowballing disparity with the Indian stockpile of fissile material. Current impasse on FMCT emanates from the most unlikely cause that is India’s nuclear energy policy rather than its nuclear security policy. Therefore, any progress on the FMT would only be possible if India is willing to completely separate the domains of nuclear energy from that of nuclear security under an effectively verifiable regime70.

Pakistan looks forward towards a global disarmament regime, which should be legally binding, internationally verifiable and universally acceptable. In this context, Pakistan wants to negotiate a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) that caters for complete elimination of all existing stocks of nuclear fissile material on non-discriminatory basis and also prohibits its further production. Pakistani proposal is disarmament based in nature and is compatible with the ‘Global Zero’ concept. Pakistan’s position is neither the first, nor the only example of a country insisting in multilateral arms  negotiations  that  its  security  interests  be  accommodated  in  a binding treaty. Arms control efforts over the decades have always been flexible enough to address the security concerns of participating states. CD’s work should not become hostage to one issue that is fissile material management. It should comprehensively proceed on disarmament matters; so that its work is on equal pace on all interlocked agenda issues like disarmament of outer space, negative assurances, abolishing of missile defence shields, conventional arms race and fissile material management etc. Moreover, envisaged treaty must take into account the security concerns of all states. America’s emphasis on early adoption of controversial FMCT, in isolation, is quite unfortunate. This amounts to treating the symptoms while ignoring the root causes.   Where hard calculations of security are involved, nations have to be engaged to forge agreements; they must be neither isolated nor coerced.

Hype has been created over a period of time regarding the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Admiral Mike Mullen stated in press conference at Pentagon “We all recognize, obviously, the worst downside with respect to Pakistan is that those nuclear weapons come under the control of terrorists.”Countries like Indian and US and their media have been quite vocal in the recent past voicing concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program. Ironically recurring incidents point that the nuclear safeguards of both these countries have been found wanting. A sensitive list of US nuclear sites was mistakenly posted on internet recently. Then, in another case that shocked the whole world, a B-52 bomber that was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads flew for more than three hours across several US states71.

As  far  as  accidents  regarding  the  Indian  nukes  are  concerned, a few months back a fire at India’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai left two people dead. Times of India reported on 30 November, 2009 about radiation contamination at the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka. The locals residing in surrounding incurred radiation exposure related symptoms. There was an incident of mysterious disappearance and death of a top nuclear scientist L. Mahalingam. Two to three tons of heavy water leaked out of an atomic reactor in western India on 05 August, 1981. An examination of the safety record in India’s nuclear facilities reveals poor practices and routine accidents, ranging from leaks of oil to complete loss of power in a reactor causing all safety systems to be disabled72. Recently, Uranium was found in an Indian commercial market and Cobalt in an academic institution.

Now the wind has changed, Pakistan has no such history. Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system remains one of the most sophisticated and secure in the world. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believes that “the nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has, I believe, is secure. I think the government and the military have taken adequate steps to protect that”. In same context, Indian Army Chief Gen VK Singh affirms, “I don’t think, there is any reason to say things are not secure. Things are secure.73”


Negotiating a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) through a multilateral process is central to the international non proliferation efforts, arms control and disarmament measures. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 48/75L aimed at “a non-discriminatory, multilateral, internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”, sets out the base  on which  all  future treaty negotiations  on the  issue  of  fissile  material  production  are  likely to develop. Competing expectations with regards to the purpose, scope, mechanism, objective and the outcome of the FMT have resulted in the current deadlock at the CD74.

Recent international developments like “discriminatory waiver” provided to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will “further accentuate the asymmetry of fissile material stockpiles in the region to the detriment of Pakistan’s security interests”. Furthermore, the US support for India’s membership of four multilateral export control regimes has reinforced a pattern of “selective behaviour” that undermines the international non-proliferation regime.

Alternate perspective on this is shared by Pakistan and some states of the G-21 group in the CD, these states favours treaty negotiations to be  more  expansive and inclusive of the four interlocking agenda items of CD 2011. Parallel negotiations on these critical issues are essential for setting the pre-requisite for multilaterally, non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable treaty and bringing the much needed balance in the international non proliferation agenda75.

A non-discriminatory FMT has the potential to strengthen the NPT, notably in the manner in which the nuclear-weapon states might be brought more formally into the IAEA safeguards system and in which nuclear weapon states outside the NPT might be brought into closer cooperation with NPT states. A fissile material treaty would be a welcome addition to the measures governing disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, making a contribution to improve the climate of trust at a time of turbulent international security environment.76

Pakistani threat perception emanates from exponential increase in the capacity of India to produce fissile material. This is a direct result of the unilateral efforts of the US to enhance India’s stature in the international community by providing it exceptional opportunities and deals at the expense of an equitable non proliferation agenda.

In the 2011 plenary session of CD, Pakistan cautioned the world community  in  categorical  terms  that  growing  international  support for India’s nuclear programme would destabilize the region and force Pakistan to augment its deterrence. Pakistan sharply criticized the moves to bring India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and other bodies that allow trade in nuclear materials. NSG was created in 1975 to standardize nuclear trade rules as a reaction to India’s testing of a nuclear explosive device in 1974. To carry out that explosion, India had clandestinely diverted Plutonium from a power reactor provided to it by Canada77.

India, like Pakistan, is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but extension of aggressive cooperation in the field is a classic example of creating exceptions and meting out discriminatory treatment in similar situations. It is strange that a country, which was first to introduce nuclear weapons in South Asia, is being rewarded in every possible way but the country that has been offering concrete proposals to make the region free of nuclear weapons faces discrimination and intimidation.

At this time only Pakistan, India, and probably North Korea and Israel, produce fissile material for weapons. The major nuclear powers, after having accumulated thousands of weapons, have declared unilateral moratoriums on its production. Likewise, issue of fissile material is not very significant to any Non Nuclear Weapon State that is party to NPT, because these states have already abdicated their right to pursue nuclear program for military purposes78.

However, none of the major states with fissile material stocks support verifiable elimination of those stocks. There appears to be a ‘convergence of interests’ among these states to ignore existing inventories. Some of these countriesare leading a campaign for characterization of Pakistan as a state bent upon scuttling progress toward global nuclear disarmament. The EU, Russia, and other major powers have also expressed anger. There are indications that the cartel of major producers of fissile material could negotiate the treaty outside the CD, as was the case with the Ottawa landmine treaty. Nevertheless, fate of any such treaty would be like that of CTBT, which was taken to UNGA in 1996. Though approved by the majority vote by UNGA, treaty is ever since in lurch awaiting ratification by requisite number of members. Even if FMCT talks begin soon, it will be many years before a treaty is completed and  enters into force.


1 Dr MaleehaLodhi, “Can Plan B work?”, The News (Karachi), May 03, 2011.

2 Yogesh Joshi, “Logic may help: Pakistan and the FMCT”PacNet No 14. Pacific Forum CSIS Honolulu, HawaiiNumber 14;03 March,2011. E2%80%9D+for+Pacific+Forum+CSIS&fr=slv8yie8&u= cache.aspx?q=Yogesh+Joshi%2c+%e2%80%9cFOCUS%e2%80%9d+for+Pac ific+Form+CSIS&d=4700128940593669&mkt=enUS&setlang=enUS&w=6c42e9d9,47221526&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=NLC7ZZbddy9aPWy7vp1pA-,-

3 Ban Ki-moon “Disfunctional Disarmament” Khaleej Times, posted by The Frontier post on 23 May 2011;

4 U.S. Department of State Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance,

“Fact Sheet: History of Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. ” America. govCompList@STATE.GOV, March 29, 2011. {‘History of the CTBT’.Key Point: The effort to end nuclear explosive testing has spanned five decades with efforts culminating in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty ( http://www. ) (CTBT), which was opened for signature in 1996. The first nuclear explosive test was conducted by the United States on July 16, 1945. The Soviet Union followed with its first nuclear test on August 29, 1949. By the mid-1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union were both conducting high-yield thermonuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere. The radioactive fallout from those tests drew criticism from around the globe. The international community’s concern about the effects on health and the environment continued to grow. In 1954, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposed ( http:// ) a ban on all nuclear testing. The increasing public concern over explosive tests led to the negotiation and entry into force of the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty ( isn/4797.htm ) (LTBT). This Treaty banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water, but underground tests were still permitted.When the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ( htm ) was being negotiated in 1968, a comprehensive test ban was discussed, but the international community failed to reach agreement on the issue. Advocates for a ban on explosive testing persisted.In 1974, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests, also known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty ( isn/5204.htm ) (TTBT). It established a nuclear “threshold” by prohibiting the United States and the Soviet Union from conducting tests that would produce a yield exceeding 150 kilotons (equivalent to 150,000 tons of TNT). The mutual restraint imposed by the Treaty reduced the explosive force of new nuclear warheads and bombs, which could otherwise be tested for weapons systems. The TTBT was not intended as a substitute for a comprehensive test ban. Article I of the Treaty states that, “the Parties shall continue their negotiations with a view toward achieving a solution to the problem of the cessation of all underground nuclear weapon tests.”In 1976, scientists from different countries formed the Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) and began conducting joint research into monitoring technologies and data analysis methods for the verification of a comprehensive test ban.Almost two decades later, the Cold War ended, bringing with it increased possibilities for progress on disarmament and self-imposed testing moratoriums from the United States and the former Soviet Union. Capitalizing on this momentum, the United Nations’ disarmament body, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, began formal negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1994. Capitalizing on the GSE’s research, the CD was able to reach consensus on the verification regime. Other parts of the negotiations proved more difficult, but members of the CD

Treaty to the U.N. General Assembly, where it was adopted on September 10, 1996 and opened for signature on September 24, 1996.Since then, 182 nations have signed the Treaty, and 153 have ratified it. Of the 44 nations whose ratifications are specifically required by the Treaty for it to enter into force, 41 have signed and 35 have ratified].For more information on the history of the CTBT, click here ( summary-of-the-treatys-history/ ).(end fact sheet)

5 NaeemSalik, “Pakistan’s Nuclearisation—Imperatives of National Security and Survivial of a Smaller State,” IPRI Journal XI, no,1,(Winter 2011):1-20

6 Dr.Shireen M. Mazari, “Who Has The Most Nukes, Mrs. Clinton?”Press Release: WWW.PROJECTPAKISTAN21.ORG;01 March 2011.

7 Ibid

8 IftikharGilani, “Secrets of India’s nuke stocks out’, Washington report bares India’s nuke holdings, says it is far behind China, IftikharGilani is a Special Correspondent with

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Don’t Skimp on Funding to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Based on a work at Volume 2, Issue 3, March 2, 2011. (This work by Institute for Policy Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

14 Dr.Shireen M. Mazari, “Who Has The Most Nukes, Mrs. Clinton?” Press Release: WWW.PROJECTPAKISTAN21.ORG;01 March 2011.

15 Don’t Skimp on Funding to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Based on a work at Volume 2, Issue 3, March 2, 2011.(This work by Institute for Policy Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.)

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Michael Krepon, “Pakistan and the Bomb.”The long form of this essay, “The Limits of Influence: US-Pakistani Nuclear Relations,” appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Nonproliferation Review, which is devoted to the international impacts of the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. http://mail.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ashraf Javed, “Pakistan must not bow to US pressure on FMCT,” The Nation (Lahore) March 04, 2011.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24. deterrent against India, but also United States ?”, Reuters, Afghan Journal, Apr 8, 2011.22:39 ETD

25 Conn  Hallinan,  “Enabling  India’s  Nuke  Program  US  Shares  Blame  for Pakistan’s”,New York Times, 9, March 2011.New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office . . . for the Obama administration the assessment poses a direct challenge to a central element of the President’s national security strategy, the reduction of nuclear stockpiles around the world.”The above words, written this past February, were followed by a Times editorial, titled “Pakistan’s Nuclear Folly,” decrying that “the weapons build-up has gotten too little attention,” and calling on Washington to “look for points of leverage” to stop it.(Source: — Wednesday, March 09,… http://

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid.

28 Dawn(Karachi),  April  26,  2011,“IAEA  terms  Pak  nuclear  program  safe, secure”.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Dawn(Karachi),  April  26,  2011,“IAEA  terms  Pak  nuclear  program  safe, secure”bid.

32 Chris Schneidmiller “IAEA Board Sets Plan for Monitoring New Pakistani Nuclear Reactors”, Global Security Newswire, March 9, 2011.(Also see GSN, Dec. 22, 2010).

33  (see GSN, Dec. 22, 2010).Published on Arms Control Association (http://www.

34  “Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics: Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, a deterrent against India, but also United States ?”, Reuters, Afghan Journal, Apr 8, 2011.22:39 ETD

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid.

37Ban  Ki-moon  “Disfunctional  Disarmament”Khaleej  Times,  posted  by  The Frontier post on 23 May 2011;

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid.

40 Dr MaleehaLodhi, “Can Plan B work?”, The News (Karachi), May 03, 2011.

41 New York Times, Editorial, “Time for Plan”. April 21, 2011.

42 Dr MaleehaLodhi, “Can Plan B work?”, The News (Karachi), May 03, 2011.

43 Ibid.

44 ibid

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid.

48. IPCS Article No.   #3369, May 03, 2011.

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid.

51 Ibid.

52 Michael Krepon, “Pakistan and the Bomb.”The long form of this essay, “The Limits of Influence: US-Pakistani Nuclear Relations,” appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Non-proliferation Review, which is devoted to the international impacts of the Obama administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. http://mail.

53 Daryl G. Kimball ‘Ending Pakistan’s Nuclear Addiction’,© 1997-2009 Arms Control Association.Source URL:

54 Ibid

55 Rajiv   Nayan,  “Pakistan’s   Annual   Deception”,February   23,   2011;Source URL: RajivNayan_230211

56 ManpreetSethi, “A Curious Pakistan Nuclear Policy”, March 30, 2011. http:// policy,       for   inquiries   please   contact:

57 Ibid

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid.

60 Yogesh Joshi, “Logic may help: Pakistan and the FMCT” Pac Net No 14. Pacific Forum CSIS Honolulu, Hawaii Number 14; 03 March,2011. search/srpcache?ei=UTF8&p=Yogesh+Joshi%2C++%E2%80%9CFOCUS% E2%80%9D+for+Pacific+Forum+CSIS&fr=slv8yie8&u= cache.aspx?q=Yogesh+Joshi%2c+%e2%80%9cFOCUS%e2%80%9d+for+Pac ific+Form+CSIS&d=4700128940593669&mkt=enUS&setlang=enUS&w=6c42e9d9,47221526&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=NLC7ZZbddy9aPWy7vp1pA-,-

61 Ibid,

62 Editorial, “Pakistan for atom bomb free world,” Pakistan Observer(Islamabad), April 07, 2011.

63 Ibid.

64 Peter Crail, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Buildup Vexes FMCT Talk” .A TRYST WITH JINNAH, Published on Arms Control Association (http://www.armscontrol. org) Arms Control Today, March 2011.(Source URL: http://www.armscontrol. org/act/2011_03/Pakistan)

65 Ibid.

66 Yogesh Joshi, “Logic may help: Pakistan and the FMCT”PacNet No 14. Pacific Forum CSIS Honolulu, HawaiiNumber 14;03 March,2011. cache.aspx?q=Yogesh+Joshi%2c+%e2%80%9cFOCUS%e2%80%9d+for+Pac ific+Form+CSIS&d=4700128940593669&mkt=enUS&setlang=enUS&w=6c42e9d9,47221526&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=NLC7ZZbddy9aPWy7vp1pA-,-

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.

71 Hamid Waheed,“Nuclear Pakistan: dispelling misconceptions!”; pakpotpourri2, on March 9, 2011 at 1:02 am,

72 Ibid.

73 Ibid

74 Concept Paper, International Workshop,“Fissile Material Treaty: Possibility and Prospects”Organized by South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI)20-22nd March 2011 at Islamabad.

75 Ibid

76 Ibid.

77 Khalid Iqbal, “Fissile Material Quandary,” The Nation (Islamabad), February 07, 2011.

78 Ibid.