Pakistan and the Nuclear Suppliers Group

Concerns over nuclear energy have substantially increased in recent years particularly in developing countries striving to maintain sustainable socioeconomic development, and to reduce carbon emission for environmental protection. ‘Asia remains a highly energy-intense region due to high energy consumption levels.’[i] World energy consumption is expected to grow by 41 [per cent] between 2012 and 2035, with around 95 per cent of that coming from emerging economies, in particular China and India. China is producing 19,050MWe and aspires to produce 50,000 MWe by 2020 and 400,000MW by 2050. India plans to boost its nuclear capacity up to 15 fold by 2032. There are reportedly 14 states that are planning to build nuclear power programmes.[ii]

Nuclear power offers Pakistan an inexpensive environmentally safe source of energy. Continued reliance on fossil fuels would generate irreversible challenges such as global warming, air, water and land pollution, and thermal pollution and would also have a direct bearing on Pakistan’s national security. Many of the environmental problems Pakistan faces today are the outcome of fossil fuel dependence.  Meanwhile, as the entire world is moving away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy Pakistan would be going backwards. Pakistan urgently requires energy to provide electric power to households, support national infrastructure and industry to put the country on the path of progress. Nuclear energy is part of the solution.

Pakistan has three operating nuclear power reactors – Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (K -1), Chashma-1 (C-1) and Chashma-2 (C-2). Chashma 3 was recently inaugurated whereas Chashma 4 is expected to be completed in 2017, each with the capacity of 340 MWe. Contextually recognizing the need for more energy, Pakistan initiated two 1100 MWe class reactors – K-2 and K-3 that would be finalized by 2020 and 2021, respectively. The K-2 and K-3 are an undeniable need for Pakistan as in recent times the production of electricity is far less than the demand, coupled with announced and unannounced load-shedding that impedes growth and development. Indeed the fastest and cheapest way of dealing with the country’s power crisis is building K-2 and K-3 nuclear power plants.[iii]

Pakistan cannot meet its energy requirements until it receives a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver like India obtained in 2008. The NSG was created against the background of the Indian nuclear explosions in 1974 to regulate the transfer of nuclear technologies. However, India was offered the NSG waiver thereby obtaining the same benefits as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) states in the form of the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008. India is now bidding for the NSG membership which requires a state to sign the NPT before formally entering this exclusive club. India formally submitted its membership application on 12 May 2016 followed by Pakistan on 19 May in the same year.

The NSG annual plenary session that was held in Seoul in June that year did not reach any consensus on the inclusion of India and Pakistan in the NSG. Several key NSG states such as Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland maintained principled opposition thereby questioning these states’ non-NPT status. Other states like Brazil and Turkey called for a criteria-based process to be put in place. Six years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged his support for India’s entry, consequently, the US supported India’s single admittance in the club.[iv] China, however, has strongly resisted the Indian application, arguing that it would enhance nuclear competition in South Asia by isolating Pakistan. Later in November that year, China proposed that the solution to new aspirants’ accession to the NSG should be non-discriminatory, applicable to all non-NPT members and must not damage the strength and spirit of the NSG and the NPT. The NSG joint statement highlighted Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participants of non-NPT States in the NSG thereby deciding to continue discussions.[v]

Thus, Rafael Mariano Grossi, former chairman of the NSG was assigned the task to prepare a formula on inclusion of non-NPT states in the cartel. The Grossi’s six-point formula[vi] seems to put India in an advantageous position over Pakistan questioning the latter’s credentials. If cumulatively analyzed, Pakistan already adheres to all the Grossi’s six-point formula except the signing of the IAEA’s additional protocol (AP) that Pakistan can consider signing any time with the IAEA.

Pakistan is protesting[vii] the India-specific membership in the NSG.  As the Indian Separation plan on civil-nuclear facilities is not fully implemented, eight of its civilian power reactors, Fast Breeders Reactors, fuel cycle and other facilities reside outside the IAEA’s safeguards. India’s AP agreement with the IAEA applies only to its nuclear exports. It does not apply to Indian nuclear material, facilities or associated equipment. India has outright refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and remained muted on Pakistan’s proposal to sign the bilateral moratorium on non-testing. India has not ceased the production of fissile material for military purposes. Indian export control guidelines do not specifically outlaw transfer of ENR technologies. India does not have an independent nuclear regulatory authority which could oversee nuclear material security and safety aspects.

India is keen to join the cartel to achieve global support for its civil nuclear deals. It aims at achieving a recognized nuclear state status. India also wants to ease the pathway to secure a permanent seat in the UNSC. This is why, India is busy implementing a sustained military build-up involving the use of modern state of the art weapons systems, ballistic missiles, nuclear powered submarines capable of launching ICBMs, large aircraft carriers capable of operating fixed-wing combat aircrafts, substantial surface warfare and submarine fleet and sophisticated air platforms.

Considering its domestic power starvation and deficiency that plagues its development and endangers human security, Pakistan needs to secure membership in the NSG, but guided by a new formula that defines nuclear cooperation based on new realities of the 21st century.  Pakistan has to plan to build more nuclear power plants to add electricity to its national grid to ensure energy security and accelerate the pace of economic development. It is confident that it can accomplish this task by further promoting nuclear security norms and implementing its national energy plans, under the IAEA’s safeguards.

Hence, the international arrangements that promote and facilitate the peaceful uses of nuclear technology demand revisions in the light of increased demand for nuclear energy security. The NPT or NSG will not become resilient and effective while promoting a selective approach to regulate global nuclear commerce. The NSG must create balance between non-proliferation and peaceful uses of technology and open gateway for new contenders. It is high time that the group members readjust the NSG guidelines by setting up a new formula on the principle of energy security for all. This will make the NSG more relevant and the NPT more resilient in the 21st century. It will help enforce CTBT and address the impasse in the CD on FMCT. Through the NSG, the group members can help integrate and recognize the status of India and Pakistan, allowing them to retain their nuclear deterrence to maintain peace and abstain from a dangerous nuclear arms race. Through revised – universally acceptable guidelines, the NSG can be made a permanent group that may indirectly universalize the status of the NPT.

[i] Rajesh Basrur and KohSwee Lean Collin and Kalyan M. Kemburi, ‘Nuclear energy and energy security in Asia’, in Rajesh Basrur and KohSwee Lean Collin (eds.), Nuclear Power and Energy Security in Asia (New York: Routledge 2012),   p. 2

[ii] Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, eds., Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play,  p. 200.

[iii]Authors’ interaction with the relevant strategic community in Islamabad in Oct-November 2015.

[iv] US to support India’s full membership in NSG’, Times of India, November 6, 2010.

[v] Public Statement: Plenary Meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 23-24 June, 2016. Available at

[vi] Daryl G. Kimball  , ‘NSG Membership Proposal Would Undermine Nonproliferation,’ Arms Control Today, 21 December 2016:


Further Reading on E-International Relations

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  • Javed

    According to new RSS mantra which most of you believe deep down in your heart…. looks very attractive to you and only you know the reason… the doctrine of”Ghar Wapsi” whatever that crap …. all Muslims of subcontinent (now about 500 million or so in 3 counties ) other significant minorities ( in India) that include Sikh (off-shoot of Hinduism according to you Hindus)), Christians were “once” Hindus and “now” is the ripe time for “you” to take them back in your fold ( Have seen yourself in the mirror lately? ) not as equal but lower caste untouchables… cleaning your filthy temples and jerking off your bald pundits? Thanks, but no thanks.. you and your Modi can lump this idea up your….. you know where?
    Only jackass and loser like you will believe that all “non-Hindus” are Indians. Great going …keep it up

  • Che Mir

    Don’t rant too much you will die of heart attack. Live buddy live – don’t die before understanding Islam otherwise dozakh bhi naseeb nahi hogi.

  • Che Mir

    Exactly the difference between Indian and Pakistani Punjabi is what a difference between terrorist and one not is. Sucker Paki dirty blood Punjabis terrorists raping the whole country. #FreeBalochistan #FreePakhtunwa

  • Javed

    Conflict with India is an on going phenomena.. India’s proxy war from Afghanistan while US has looked the other way.. the blatant terrorism at the same time talking peace with Pakistan is a clever ploy, a thick smokescreen that is hard to beat but Pakistan has understood and woke up after the unfortunate events of 1971.
    In 1979 India looked at one more chance to destabilize Pakistan after USSR captured Afghanistan… and with KGB/RAW/KHAD unleashed terror on our citizens. Since then we are only reacting and trying to defend from the undeclared war India has declared on Pakistan. Punjab’s trouble that was India’s own doing was once in lifetime chance dropped in our lap as a ripe apple but it was a half-hearted attempt to break Punjab from India only enough trouble to keep India occupied for 10 long years .The seeds of separation Punjabi Hindus sowed in Punjab, Pakistan tried to take advantage as a partial payback of 1971. But you changed Sikh psyche and outlook with the bloody events of 1984 and that is where we won from your blunder for what your leaders and general population did to Sikh in Delhi and across India. Sikhs are seen in India with deep suspicions… as enemy of India and btw.. what is wrong if Pakistan stoke some fear in you and keep you on your toes and at the same time helped Sikhs?. Proxy wars war with India is mixed bag and on going … and will continue…

  • Javed

    I see your frustration the pain like you are pi$$ing blood.Good for you…

  • Javed

    I am showing the mirror, the ugly face that you hide…behind the computer screen. Get lost..

  • Che Mir

    you are mentally troubled my friend, I suggest seek some advice from Musharraf who was seen dancing on Bollywood tune.

  • Che Mir

    C’mon now – Is your Sunni nut crushing?

  • Che Mir

    you need to observe Roza, you have too much anger!

  • Javed

    Musharraf gave your army a big shaft in Kargil,…his dancing on Bollywood tunes does not prove any thing as he has proven time and again he does not give a crap about India and says things like it is … Just few days ago one of your soldier was returned who crossed border in Kashmir in Sept last year..did not know from his behind to hole in the ground…lol and another complained his lousy ration on “youtube” that went viral with several million hits…shame on you to starve these poor soldiers…I am sure he is from lower caste like you are …a slave mind… so much for your $hit-talk. and balderdash…..

  • Che Mir

    haha – gave shaft? If Paki won every war with India why do they get their faced blackened every time? About how we treat our soldiers – Really? A country is shameless if it refuses to take the dead bodies of its own soldiers. You do understand you guys are pathetic bunch of low lives don’t you?

  • Javed

    Post-partition India’s pathetic poverty gave me little glimpse of what individually or collectively low-life meaning could be ? India has been historically a low-life country and society for centuries. Where you would find 1.3 billion people packed like sardines in an area less than one-third of US? It is India where more than half of the population defecate in the open and it is India where half-burnt bodies are left to dogs and vultures….no respect to your dead. No society or country is as callous as Indian is to its poor (read low-life)…the list is long but what can shame you because you are so callous insensitive and product of low life.
    Look at yourself in the mirror and you will find the face and symbol of low life is right in front of you.

  • sani ch.

    Are you okay? As you were barking like a mad dog so thought to ask how are you. Lol such a pathetic creature you are.

  • sani ch.

    Excellent article mam. I hope world’s hypocrisy ends with exluding India from NSG membership or atleast give membership to both Pakistan and india.

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