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PAKISTAN’S POST-CHAGAI NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY

Paper No. 29
                                             An analysis 

                                              
        Pakistan’s post-Chagai diplomatic negotiations to harmonise its security concerns with the non-proliferation concerns of  the international community and to free itself from what it looks upon as unjust and unequal (in comparison to India) economic and military disabilities imposed on it since 1990 because of its pursuit of its nuclear and missile objectives have been mainly with the USA and Japan. 
        While the negotiations with the US (at the political as well as bureaucratic levels) have been covering all aspects of  the two issues of  security and non-proliferation, those with Japan (also at the political and bureaucratic levels) have been largely confined to Japanese concerns over Pakistan’s missile co-operation with North Korea and the need for an effective, verifiable export control mechanism.. 
         Two themes which Pakistan has been doggedly pursuing in its negotiations are the removal of perceived asymmetries vis-à-vis India in matters relating to fissile material stockpiles and conventional weapons and equality of treatment with India with regard to incentives for entering any non-proliferation architecture in the sub-continent and obligations to be adhered to under such architecture. 
         To understand Pakistan’s post-Chagai nuclear diplomacy in the proper perspective, 
any  analysis has to start from the sanctions imposed against Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment by the Bush Administration on October 1,1990. These sanctions were substantial, but not as comprehensive as those imposed under the Glenn Amendment by the Clinton Administration after Pakistan’s nuclear tests at Chagai in the last week of May,1998. 
         The most important difference was that the sanctions of the Bush Administration did not ban US support to assistance to Pakistan by multilateral financial institutions. Despite this, the Pressler Amendment sanctions severely affected Pakistan economically and militarily by terminating all military supply relationship with Pakistan under the Foreign Military Sales Programme under which Pakistan was getting US military equipment at concessional rates. 
         Moreover, the sanctions of the Bush Administration were , in certain respects,  even more severe than those of the Clinton Administration because they were imposed retrospectively, freezing even the implementation of orders for equipment placed and paid for even before October 1,1990, whereas the sanctions of the Clinton Administration are only prospective. 
         Ever since she returned to power in October,1993, Benazir Bhutto had been harping on the intrinsically unfair nature of the sanctions under the Pressler Amendment because it was Pakistan-specific and not directed against India and violative of commercial ethics as it not only banned future military and technology supply relationship, but also punished Pakistan, according to her,  for its past military dependence on the US by imposing retrospective disabilities. 
         These disabilities were in the form of  a freeze on the execution of contracts signed before October 1,1990, non-return of old US equipment sent to the US for repairs, non-supply of spare parts for equipment purchased in the past, some of them even before the Pressler Amendment had been enacted, and making Pakistan pay the storage charges  for the 28 F-16 aircraft ordered before October 1,1990, but not delivered due to the invoking of the Pressler Amendment. 
         In early 1994, the Clinton Administration, through Strobe Talbot, Deputy Secretary of State, who had visited Pakistan, had offered to initiate action for the removal of all retrospective disabilities except in the case of the F-16 aircraft through a one-time exception in return for Pakistan agreeing to a verifiable cap on its nuclear  weapons programme.  
         Benazir Bhutto turned down the offer. While assuring the Clinton Administration that Pakistan was no longer enriching uranium to weapons’ grade at Kahuta, she declined to agree to any external inspection mechanism for verifying Pakistan’s claim. 
         Despite this, during her visit to the US in April, 1995, Benazir Bhutto succeeded in convincing the Clinton Administration and large sections of the Congress about the unfair nature of the sanctions of the Bush Adminstration and the need to remove at least the retrospective disabilities. 
         This led to the enactment of the Brown Amendment in October,1995, which , while maintaining the ban on fresh military supply relationship with Pakistan, removed all retrospective disabilities except those relating to the undelivered F-16 aircraft. While refusing to hand over these aircraft on the ground that these could strengthen Pakistan’s nuclear delivery capability, the Clinton Administration agreed to sell the aircraft to a third country buyer and return to Pakistan the money which it had paid for the aircraft. 
         While fresh military sales to Pakistan continued to be banned, the Administration used the powers under the Brown Amendment to remove the ban on the repairs of old US equipment provided no upgradation was involved. Thus, Pakistan got back from the US all its old equipment sent for repairs as well as all new equipment, other than F-16, ordered before October 1,1990. It was also able to get the old equipment, particularly of the Air Force, regularly serviced and repaired by the US companies on a commercial basis without having them upgraded. 
         After her return to Pakistan from the US, Benazir Bhutto had also been claiming that officials of the Clinton Administration had agreed with her that the Russian supply of military equipment to India tended to further adversely affect the conventional military balance in the sub-continent and that they would pressurise  the Russian Government to exercise restraint in its military supply relationship with India. 
         She had also been claiming that if the Clinton Administration did not succeed in pressurising Russia, she was hopeful of persuading it to initiate another exception to enable the sale of fresh military equipment to Pakistan except of aircraft deemed to be capable of nuclear delivery. 
         The effect of the sanctions imposed by the Clinton Administration under the Glenn Amendment after the Chagai nuclear tests is that the benefits enjoyed by Pakistan under the Brown Amendment  had been done away with, thereby dashing Pakistani hopes of resuming the military supply relationship with the US and once again creating difficulties for the servicing and repairs of old US equipment and procurement of spare parts for them. 
         Moreover, the Glenn Amendment sanctions not only re-imposed the ban on assistance and political risk insurance cover to US investors in Pakistan by the Ex-Im Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), but also stopped US support  to financial assistance to Pakistan by multilateral institutions. 
        However, by using his waiver powers under the Brownback Amendment enacted in October,1998, President Clinton has restored the position with regard to Pakistan as it was before Chagai for a period of one year. That is, the US would once again support multilateral financial assistance to Pakistan, and the Ex-Im Bank and the OPIC could once again extend assistance to US investors in Pakistan. 
        While Pakistan has delinked its adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) from  that of India and reportedly agreed in principle to complete the adherence by September,1999, it is believed to be harping on the theme during its negotiations with the US that the waivers exercised so far are not sufficient incentive to enable the Nawaz Sharif Government to sell the CTBT to its public opinion. 
         It has been highlighting what it projects as the widening conventional weapon disparity due to the failure of the Clinton Administration to pressurise Russia to exercise restraint in the sale of military equipment and technology to India and Washington’s refusal to resume military supply relationship with Pakistan. 
         Pakistan’s insistence during its negotiations with the US  on the need to remove “Pakistan-specific coercive sanctions” before it signs the CTBT relates to its demand for the removal of the ban on the supply of fresh military equipment imposed under the Pressler Amendment for which fresh waiver powers would be necessary. The waiver powers granted to Clinton under the Brownback amendment would not enable him to do this.  
         Three other contentious issues in Pakistan’s negotiations with the US relate to the so-called benchmark about  the freezing at the present level of weaponisation , development of delivery vehicles and fissile material stockpiles and non-deployment as part of a strategic restraint regime  and a stricter export control regime with a mechanism for external verification of adherence to the regime. 
         Pakistan has been insisting on the need to have a minimum nuclear deterrent so long as the Kashmir issue is not solved and a comprehensive restraint regime covering nuclear as well as  conventional weapons is not in force. According to it, a restraint regime in respect of conventional weapons should remove the existing asymmetry by pressurising Russia to exercise restraint in its military supply relationship with India and by resuming the USA’s military supply relationship with Pakistan, 
        While Pakistan has agreed to participate in the negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off treaty (FMCT), it has been resisting US pressure for an immediate cap on its existing fissile material stockpiles and for an external inspection mechanism to verify its adherence to the cap. The US insistence on an inspection mechanism is attributable to its suspicion arising from the quantity of fissile material used by Pakistan for its tests and subsequent reports of Pakistan still having enough material at least for 25 nuclear weapons that contrary to its past assurances, Pakistan had continued to clandestinely enrich uranium to weapons’ grade at Kahuta. 
         Pakistan’s stand till now has been that the question of a cap on fissile material stockpiles would arise only as part of the negotiations under the FMCT and that Pakistan would even then agree to a cap only after its asymmetry with India in this regard has been reduced through an appropriate reduction of the Indian stockpiles. 
         Not only the US, but also Japan have been unrelenting in their pressure on Pakistan for an effective export control mechanism through the enactment of a special law for the purpose, with provision for external inspection to verify adherence to the control regime. 
         The USA is particularly concerned over the possibility of leakage of weapons and missile technology and materials not only to other Islamic countries and North Korea, but also to trans-national Islamic terrorist groups such as that of Osama alias Osman Bin Laden through the collusion of rogue elements in Pakistan’s military and scientific establishment, without the knowledge of the political leadership. 
         Japan is worried over the possibility that Pakistan’s missile deal with North Korea may not be a purely commercial transaction with North Korea giving the missiles and connected technology in return for Pakistani cash and foodgrains and that there could be a clandestine quid pro quo in the form of Pakistani technical inputs for upgrading North Korea’s nuclear and missile capability.           
         Thus, Japan has reportedly been even more insistent than the US on the need for an external inspection mechanism for the export control regime. In its negotiations, Pakistan continues to deny any nuclear or missile deal with North Korea. 
         In the past, Pakistan has never denied its nuclear and missile deals with China, but had always claimed that the nuclear assistance from China was only for peaceful non-weapon purposes and that the missiles covered under its deal with China were within the parameters of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). However, in the case of North Korea, it has been vehemently denying the very existence of any deal because in the perception of both the US and Japan, North Korea is a rogue state. Japanese political and public opinion is unlikely to accept any Pakistani co-operation with a rogue State like North Korea, which poses a threat to Japanese security.. 
         During his recent visit to Washington for talks with President Clinton on December 2,1998, Nawaz Sharif had reportedly carried a “wish-list” and a “concerns-list”. The wish list related to Pakistan’s demand  for the return of the money paid by it for the undelivered F-16 aircraft and for the resumption of the military supply relationship with Pakistan. The concerns-list covered Pakistani worries over the asymmetries with India with regard to conventional weapons and fissile material stockpiles and the consequences, as projected by him, to regional peace due to the Kashmir issue. 
         Since his return from the US, the Pakistan Government has received satisfaction with regard to the reimbursement of the money paid for the F-16, but there does not appear to be any  significant forward movement yet on the other issues. For how long can Pakistan resist US and Japanese pressure? 
         While one should not under-estimate Pakistan’s ability to resist US and Japanese pressure on issues it considers vital for its security vis-à-vis India, it is in a much more vulnerable position today than it was after the invoking of the Pressler Amendment. Between 1990 and 1998, it was able to withstand US pressure despite the economic difficulties because of the continuance of multilateral assistance and the flow of money from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 
          Due to the continuing decline in oil prices, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are themselves now facing a cash crunch---particularly Saudi Arabia—and, therefore, are not in a position to help Pakistan out this time. Thus, without a fresh rescue package from the IMF, Pakistan would have difficulty in continuing to avoid bankruptcy. This aggravates its vulnerability to US pressure.

  B.Raman.                                                                         2-1-99     
      
(The writer is Additional Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail address: corde@md3.vsnl.net.in  )

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