ISLAMABAD (TIP): Pakistan should be offered a path to nuclear normalcy in the same way India was accepted into the nuclear club when it negotiated a civil nuclear deal with the US and was brought into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Programme, International Institute of Strategic Studies, UK said on Thursday.
Fitzpatrick addressing a public talk show and his book launch “Overcoming Pakistan’s Nuclear Dangers organized by The Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. He said Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was one of the world’s fastest growing. He said that the triangular relationship between Pakistan, India and China has led to a unidirectional security competition whereby India’s security concerns and arms competition were fueled by a much larger China and Pakistan’s by a much larger India.
“As a consequence Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal presently estimated to be around 120 was projected to be over 200 by year 2020 which was a cause of great concern for major powers around the world,” Fitzpatrick said. He suggested that Pakistan should negotiate the Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty and sign the Comprehensive Cut Off Treaty to give it a diplomatic high ground and to lock in India’s nuclear weapon potential which was much greater than Pakistan’s should it choose to develop it.
Fitzpatrick recommended the path to negotiation for India and Pakistan for dealing with issues that may spark a nuclear war as well as conflict. He asked the Pakistani government to suppress extremist groups to reduce the dangers of seizure of its nuclear weapons. He also presented a perspective on dangers associated with Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Among the major concerns that he highlighted was potential for escalation of South Asia’s strategic arms race and the subsequent increased potential for theft, sabotage and especially nuclear terrorism; nuclear accidents as well as concerns that Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons technology might again be transferred to nuclear aspirants; and above all the potential for a nuclear war possibly triggered by terrorist activities such as in the case of 2008 Mumbai attack. He identified that while the danger of extremist groups getting hold of nuclear weapons was in theory possible, the threat was exaggerated out of proportion in Western media.