WASHINGTON - The United States expressed “full confidence” in Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen nuclear security and welcomed the country’s moves to harmonise its strategic trade controls with those of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and other multilateral export control regimes.

The US recognition of Pakistan as a responsible nuclear state with strong export controls and safety came through a joint statement issued after the seventh round of talks between the delegations of the two countries on Tuesday.

“Both sides emphasised the desirability of continued outreach to integrate Pakistan into the international non-proliferation regime,” it said after day-long talks between Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, who led their respective delegations.

The joint statement said the delegations had a “productive exchange of views” on wide range of issues, including international efforts to enhance nuclear security, peaceful applications of nuclear energy, non-proliferation, export controls, regional stability and security. Pakistan stressed the need for access to peaceful nuclear technology as a socio-economic imperative, especially to meet the country’s pressing energy needs.

“The United States expressed full confidence in Pakistan’s indigenous efforts to strengthen nuclear security, and welcomed Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen export controls and border security including through ongoing efforts for installation of radiation portal monitors at border crossings, as well as Pakistan’s hosting of IAEA training activities at its Nuclear Security Center of Excellence,” the statement said.

Expressing their shared interest in strategic stability of South Asia, the joint statement said, “The United States and Pakistan emphasised the importance of meaningful dialogue and progress in this area and expressed the hope for lasting peace in South Asia and the resolution of outstanding territorial and other disputes through peaceful means.” In this regard, Pakistan reiterated its long-standing proposal of pursuing nuclear restraint, conventional equilibrium and conflict resolution in South Asia.

“The United States welcomed Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s 2014 statement to the United Nations General Assembly in which he noted that, to promote stability, Pakistan is prepared to explore new confidence building measures. Reaffirming that statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan reiterated its longstanding proposal of pursuing nuclear restraint, conventional equilibrium and conflict resolution in South Asia. Pakistan also reiterated its commitment to Credible Minimum Deterrence and to pursue measures in the region aimed at building confidence and lessening the risk of armed conflict.”

The statement also reaffirmed the high importance that US and Pakistan attach to preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery to states as well as non-state actors.

The Pakistan delegation welcomed the understanding reached between Iran and six major powers, including the United States, on April 2, and underscored the importance of resolving the nuclear issue peacefully, and expressed its earnest hope that the parties concerned will be able to finalise a comprehensive settlement.

The United States stressed the importance of commencing negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) in the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), noting its readiness to address all issues raised in the course of negotiations. (The treaty seeks to ban production of fissile material used as fuel for nuclear weapons.)

On its part, Pakistan underlined its preference for a broader Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) that addresses the asymmetries in existing stocks and highlighted that Pakistan’s position on FMT will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of strategic stability in South Asia.

Both sides noted the high priority that arms control has for the international community, according to the statement. The United States outlined its nuclear stockpile reductions, explained its efforts to seek congressional approval to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and reaffirmed its commitment not to conduct further nuclear test explosions. Pakistan noted its continued support for CTBT-related resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly, and its consistent stance that it will not be the first in its region to resume nuclear testing.

The delegations, according to the statement, discussed international efforts aimed at improving nuclear security with a central role of IAEA including through the high level focus by the Nuclear Security Summit process and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. In this context, both countries expressed their desire to see the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit result in strengthened nuclear security architecture. Accordingly, both countries aspired to ratify the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in accordance with national laws and procedures...”

Both delegations took note of the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which is aimed at ending unregulated conventional weapons sales, halting illegal shipments of weapons such as missiles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters. The delegations also discussed issues related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and would continue such consultations.