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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 41, November 1999

Pakistan Responds To India's Nuclear Doctrine

Address to the "Pakistan Response to the Indian Nuclear Doctrine" Seminar, Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar, November 25, 1999.

"… The subject selected for today's seminar is an example. No issue is more vital for the security of Pakistan than what should be Pakistan's strategy in the face of India's declaration of intent to build a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. …

The rationale of Pakistan's nuclear programme is well known. In 1971, India exploited power disparity for aggression and military intervention to the detriment of Pakistan's integrity. Neither alliances proved reliable nor the Security Council acted to fulfil the pledge in the UN Charter of collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace. Pakistan was compelled to undertake a painful reappraisal of the earlier policy of nuclear abstinence. The conclusion was unavoidable: Pakistan had to develop the capacity to deter another adventure against our country.

In the absence of alternatives, acquisition of the nuclear option was conceived as a means of deterrence of aggression and prevention of war. Safeguarding the peace and security of our country was the sole objective. Pakistan entertains no ambition to great power status or regional domination.

Minimum nuclear deterrence will remain the guiding principle of our nuclear strategy. The minimum cannot be quantified in static numbers. The Indian buildup will necessitate review and reassessment. In order to ensure the survivability and credibility of the deterrent Pakistan will have to maintain, preserve and upgrade its capability. But we shall not engage in any nuclear competition or arms race.

The Chief Executive, General Pervez Musharraf declared on October 17… Pakistan's pledge to the world community that we shall continue our efforts for reducing nuclear dangers in South Asia. …

We did not sign CTBT only because India's opposition to the treaty raised suspicions about its intention. Our apprehension proved to be correct. On May 11 and 13, 1998, India conducted multiple nuclear explosions. Immediately war-mongers in New Delhi hurled threats against our country. It became necessary to demonstrate that Pakistan, too, possessed nuclear capability. However, having made the point, Pakistan declared a moratorium on further testing.

So far out of the 44 designated states only 26 have ratified it; three - India, Pakistan and North Korea - have not even signed the treaty. The prospects of the treaty entering into force have dimmed because the United States Senate has rejected ratification. The world must hope that the Senate will reverse itself. But never before has it done so after having rejected a treaty.

The Clinton Administration has declared the US will continue to observe the CTBT. The world has welcomed that pledge. We hope further that the United States and all the other hold-out states will eventually ratify the treaty so that CTBT can enter into force, and that in the meantime they will refrain from conducting any further nuclear explosion.

Still the question arises as to what is the status of CTBT in the meantime. Will CTBT remain dormant for an indefinite period? What are the obligations - legal or moral - of the states that have ratified the treaty, of those that signed it but have not ratified it, and - let us not forget - those which voted in favour of the treaty but have not signed it?

The answer to the last part is clear so far as Pakistan is concerned. The vote in favour of the CTBT did not in any way affect our inherent right to conduct tests. That leaves the question whether signing the treaty would have compromised that right?

Pakistan's position remains categorical: if India conducts another nuclear explosion before the CTBT enters into force, nothing in or outside the treaty can foreclose Pakistan's right to do the same, whether it has signed the treaty or not. Of course, after the treaty's entry into force, all parties, including Pakistan and India, will be obligated to refrain from conducting a nuclear explosion. A violation of that explicit prohibition will explode the treaty itself

Another key safeguard built into Article 8 of CTBT acknowledges the right of a party to withdraw from the treaty at its own option. The state need only mention the extraordinary event or events which, in its opinion, have jeopardized its "supreme interests".

In considering the question of signing the CTBT, note has to be taken that the Indian stance has been changing. It first opposed the treaty and proceeded to conduct nuclear tests in May 1998. Then it declared a moratorium on further tests, and in September 1998 it also announced that it would not block the treaty's entry into force. Obviously that would require India to sign the CTBT. To that end, intensive negotiations have in fact been taking place between India and the United States and, according to reports, have entered an advanced stage. The communiqué issued after the last round on November 16 sounded upbeat.

These developments raise the question as to what should be Pakistan's stance. Does the balance of advantages favour a wait-and-see policy or an early decision? Should Pakistan follow India or seize the initiative? It will be recalled that Pakistan declared in 1996 it would sign CTBT if India did.

Let me assure you that the government is alive to the importance other outstanding questions about the CTBT. Let me also assure you that the Government has no intention to take a precipitate decision one way or other. On a policy issue as important as CTBT, domestic consensus is obviously a prerequisite. The recommendations you make will receive close and serious consideration.

Before closing, a word about the proposed Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Consistent with our traditionally positive approach to nuclear issues, our predisposition is favourable. Pakistan has therefore agreed to participate in negotiations on FMCT. Currently, the Conference on Disarmament is stalled on procedural issues. When negotiations enter the substantive stage, Pakistan will participate actively. Issues relating to verification and stockpiles will be of critical importance for Pakistan. …"

Source: The full text of the speech is available from the Pakistan government website at: http://www.pak.gov.pk/

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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