After Iran, Is it Pakistan?

Dec 30th, 2015 | Category: Articles

Sarah Khan

After years of tough diplomacy and series of negotiations between Iran and P5+1, the US and Iran were able to conclude a nuclear deal in July 2015. The deal was also approved by US congress in November and very soon it will be in the implementation phase. By signing a deal with Iran, US has successfully resolved the issue of nuclear Iran as it has stalled progress on all those activities which were raising suspicion in the West that Iran might develop a nuclear weapon. Before neutralizing Iran, US had successfully destroyed Osirak reactor in Iraq and Al-kibar nuclear reactor in Syria.


After successfully neutralizing Iran, the statements and media writings in US suggests that Pakistan is next on US denuclearization agenda. It is evident from a renowned US newspaper The New York Times editorial published on 06 April 2015 titled “Nuclear Fears in South Asia” which argued that Pakistani Army has become increasingly dependent on the nuclear arsenal because Pakistan cannot match the size and sophistication of India’s conventional forces. Pakistan has left open the possibility that it could be the first to use nuclear weapons in a confrontation, even one that began with conventional arm. Building upon this argument the editorial urged major powers that this is not a situation that can be ignored, however preoccupied they may be by the long negotiations with Iran.


Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme has always remained an issue of main concern for US and West. US has always tried to target Pakistan’s nuclear programme whenever its dependence on Pakistan has declined. On 17 December during House Foreign Affairs Committee Ambassador Olson stated that US is engaged with Pakistan to discuss development of its tactical nuclear weapons. He also made it clear that US is not discussing any 123 (nuclear cooperation) agreement with Pakistan. During PM Sharif’s visit to US in October 2015, there was much hue and cry about Pakistan-US civil nuclear cooperation.


In August this year a study titled ‘Normal Nuclear Pakistan’ was released by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace authored by Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon. The report proposed five initiatives to include Pakistan in global nuclear order:

(1)       Pakistan should shift from ‘full spectrum’ to ‘strategic deterrence’.

(2) Pakistan should limit the production of its short-range delivery vehicles, tactical nuclear weapons and commit to a ‘recessed’ deterrence posture.

(3)       Pakistan should lift its long held veto in the Conference of Disarmament and let the negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty (FMCT) begin and both reduce and stop its fissile material production.

(4)       Pakistan should separate its civilian and military facilities.

(5)       Pakistan should sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) without waiting for India to sign.

All five proposals/ initiatives suggested by writers have remained priority agenda for US officials since overt nuclearization of South Asia. By recommending ways to denuclearization, writers have suggested that if Pakistan take these measures it will be included in global nuclear order. Pakistani officials have always rejected all such measures on the pretext that nuclear weapons capability is a deterrent against arch rival conventionally superior India. By taking any of the five above mentioned initiatives Pakistan will not be able to ensure credible minimum deterrence against India to ensure its survival. On the other hand, US/ West are not only ignorant of nuclear development in India but they are helping India to enhance its nuclear capability by signing deals of strategic cooperation.

As narrated in NY Times editorial US and major World powers are now looking for strategies to neutralize nuclear Pakistan, the only Muslim state left with the nuclear capability. US and major powers will likely adopt non-military means (tough sanctions, economic strangulation or economic baits) to achieve their goal in Pakistan.  In order to ensure its national security, Pakistan must reiterate its stated stance on nuclear capability and there should be no compromise on strategic assets of Pakistan.


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