Key Note address by the President of Pakistan at the SSI Conference on the Global Non-Proliferation Regime: Challenges and Responses

Islamabad, October 15, 2018 (PPI-OT): Honourable Dr. Shireen Mazari,

Distinguished Director General of the Strategic Studies Institute,

Respected Scholars,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to address this Conference. I thank the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) for inviting me as a Keynote speaker.

The subject of the Conference is of great contemporary relevance and significance for Pakistan. The challenges to the global non-proliferation regime ultimately impact peace and stability at all levels, national, regional and global. For the Government in Pakistan, socio-economic development and welfare of the people constitutes the topmost priority. This, in turn, necessitates a peaceful neighbourhood in South Asia as well as a stable global security environment. Therein lies the significance of evolving a sustainable and equitable global non-proliferation regime which is based on recognition of the right to equal security for all states and does not seek to preserve the security interests of the few at the expense of others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international security landscape is far from encouraging. The euphoria generated by the end of Cold War and the concomitant expectations for meaningful steps towards global disarmament have give way to a qualitative nuclear arms race among the leading nuclear possessor states. The same is manifested in terms of increased reliance on nuclear weapons in the national nuclear postures and policies of great powers, plans to modernize and upgrade nuclear forces and testing of new and more lethal weapon systems. Old conflicts continue to fester as new ones flare up.

Differences on perspectives, approaches and modalities, are negatively impacting progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Double standards and exceptionalism are undermining the credibility of the non-proliferation regime. As a result the global non-proliferation regime has come under increasing stress. Alongside the existing challenges related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, new threats have arisen.

These include hostile uses of Outer Space, offensive cyber capabilities, development and use of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) and armed drones. Such weapons can lower the threshold for war and put machines at the helm of decisions of life and death. There is a need for legally binding global framework to regulate the use of the emerging technologies to safeguard against the new threats to international peace and security posed by the weaponization of such technologies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In relation to the global non-proliferation regime, two opposing trends are being witnessed.

On the one hand, there is dangerous talk of strengthening and expanding nuclear capabilities to outmatch potential competitors. On the other extreme, frustrated by the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament, a group of Non-Nuclear Weapon States is promoting the recently adopted Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Ban Treaty). This Treaty trivializes the genuine national security concerns which have compelled certain states to rely on nuclear deterrence for self-defence.

Pakistan believes that for global and regional peace and stability, the motives which drive states to acquire weapons for self-defence need to be addressed. These include threats from conventional and non-conventional imbalances, existence of disputes and conflicts and discrimination in application of international norms and laws. There is a need for the UN to play its due role in facilitating the resolution of long-standing disputes and conflicts which are underlying factors for instability.

Distinguished participants,

Pakistan is committed to the objective of strategic stability in South Asia. Prior to 1998, Pakistan relentlessly pursued the objective of keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons. Our proposals in this regard are well documented. However, the nuclear tests conducted by our neighbour in 1998 ended any prospect for a nuclear weapons free South Asia. We were forced to respond through our own tests to restore the strategic balance in our region.

Pakistan has, however, not given up the pursuit of meaningful engagement with India for confidence-building, avoidance of arms race and risk reduction. In this regard Pakistan proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR), encompassing nuclear and missile restraints, conflict resolution and conventional balance, can provide a good basis.

Unfortunately, strategic stability in South Asia is being threatened by the induction of destabilizing weapons systems, such as the Anti Ballistic Missile systems (ABMs) and offensive force postures, such as Cold Start and Proactive Strategy. Discriminatory exemptions by certain countries for the supply of nuclear technology and advanced military hardware in our neighbourhood further complicate the regional security dynamics.

While Pakistan will continue to demonstrate restraint and responsibility, no one should doubt our resolve to deny any space for war to those seeking such an opportunity despite the existence of nuclear weapons in South Asia. We expect the international community to take serious note of talk of surgical strikes and limited war. The proponents of such reckless fantasies would bear the responsibility for any consequences. We hope that good sense prevails and both Pakistan and India are able to agree on a framework for strategic stability. We owe it to our people to employ greater efforts and resources towards their socio-economic well being.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since its inception, the orientation of Pakistan nuclear programme has been civilian. We were one of the early subscribers to the Atoms for Peace vision and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We have a complete programme for harnessing peaceful uses of nuclear energy including nuclear power plants, complete nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, research reactors, agriculture and biotechnology research centers, medical and oncology centers. As such, Pakistan can be a significant contributor to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through international cooperation. We, therefore, intend to further strengthen partnerships at the international level, including with UN, IAEA and developing countries, as providers of services and expertise, for civilian nuclear applications.

Pakistan has applied for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Pakistan adherence to the NSG Guidelines reflects our commitment and contribution to the non-proliferation regime. We will continue to support and actively participate in efforts for non-proliferation, nuclear safety and security. As a country with significant civilian nuclear programme and the ability to supply items controlled by the NSG, Pakistan participation will further the non-proliferation objectives of the Group.

For Pakistan, one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change, nuclear power generation provides a cleaner and more sustainable alternative for energy security. In this regard, we would like to underscore the imperative for a non-discriminatory and rule-based global order for access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and other dual-use technologies.

Exceptionalism and discriminatory waivers from rules undermine the credibility of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation framework. Its future depends on the continuous commitment of the international community to collective solutions. Challenges in the realm of the non-proliferation regime have to be addressed through diplomatic solutions and enhanced cooperation, not through polarization, coercion and exclusion.

In this context, I would like to reiterate Pakistan full support for the JCPOA and express our appreciation for Iran continued implementation of its obligation under the agreement. We call upon all concerned parties to honour their respective commitments. We also welcome the recent positive developments in the Korean peninsula and hope that the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and other concerned parties will abide by their international obligations for the realization of the goal of a nuclear weapons free Korean peninsula.

Thank You

For more information, contact:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459
Website: www.mofa.gov.pk