According to a report published in The Washington Post, The United States and Pakistan are in the process of negotiating a deal that will see start of a civil nuclear partnership between the two countries.
U.S. aiming to limit and control Pakistan’s nuclear weapons
David Ignatius, an opinion writer for the U.S.-based newspaper, says the White House is indeed exploring the possibility of a deal which aims at limiting and controlling Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
“The White House is exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems,” he said.
If the rumors in the market are to be given any credence, the United States may be able to thrash out a nuclear deal in the near future with Pakistan in a similar way it did with India in 2005. Pakistan has been asking Washington for help in order to kick start its civil nuclear program for ages but has always met with stiff resistance. However, it appears that the U.S. is now willing to offer Islamabad a deal.
Although reports seem to suggest that Pakistan will agree to add some restrictions to its nuclear program and the weapons delivery systems that are tailored to its defense needs against India’s nuclear threats, it is still likely that the two sides will bicker quite a lot over the terms of this agreement. Quoting an example of a possible accord between the two nations, Ignatius reported that Pakistan might agree not to deploy missiles capable of reaching beyond a certain range. And should this deal go through with both sides making a few concessions here and there, Pakistan will get U.S. support for an eventual waiver by the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, in which the U.S. is also a member.
A few years ago, the U.S. used the same tactic and agreed to exempt India from rules that banned trades of anything related to nuclear technology with countries that are not signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which gave it a partial entry into the group in exchange for its willingness to apply International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to its civilian nuclear program.
Although these reports sound really good in theory, the fact that Pakistan really honors and cares about its nuclear program and has been always vocal about its nuclear ambitions means that discussing terms with Washington will be a very slow and difficult process, and it remains to be seen if Islamabad will eventually be willing to accept the limitations it will have to agree to in order to be part of the group.
Nawaz Shariff’s meeting with Barack Obama
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is set to visit Washington on Oct. 22, and it is likely that this issue will be discussed discretely and behind closed doors when he meets up with President Barack Obama. The U.S. is also keenly awaiting this nuclear dialogue, as officials have been viewing nuclear programs that are not bound by the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the most dangerous security problem in the world.
These tidings come in the wake of a recent event of Taliban resurgence which has seen the extremist group take over the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan. The U.S. hopes that in the long run, making deals like this with Pakistan will serve to address the issues of Kabul.
Keeping in view the volatile situation of the region, the U.S. is now looking to pursue a rather aggressive diplomatic approach in a bid to cull Taliban’s threat which the current Afghan government always blames for allegedly having its roots in Pakistan. However, Pakistan has categorically denied these accusations and states that the recent operations conducted by its military in the northern regions is proof of the fact that Pakistan wants to put an end to extremism in the region just as much as the rest of the world.
Moreover, Afghanistan has never been able to come up with conclusive proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the recent insurgency Kabul has been taking care of. Also the U.S. is not confident in the abilities of Afghan forces to tackle the Taliban resurgence and believes that in Pakistan, it has an ally that can really stomp the organization’s authority in Afghanistan and put an end to the recent volatility that has forced policymakers in the Pentagon to rethink their exit strategy from the country.