With a touch of irony, Canada has agreed to supply uranium to India for the next five years, burying the discord which had sprung between them. It was India’s diversion of nuclear technology provided to it for civilian energy program by Canada that led to the latter banning all nuclear trade with the country. India’s actions also provided the impetus for the establishment of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the body meant to control nuclear trade and ensure that materials that could be used for making a nuclear weapons program are not traded. Yet today India secured a nuclear deal with Canada and has firm assurance from several countries that it can become a member of the NSG, the first country to do so without having signed the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The deal is a boon and a victory for India, whose administration under Modi has been trying to make nuclear power the main source of the nation’s energy production, but it does bring into sharp contrast the contradictory stance maintained by the NSG nations, especially when it comes to Pakistan.
The United States sponsored special wavier that India received from the NSG and its numerous consequent nuclear deals erode much of the underlying principles of the NPT. Strategic and economic interests have been allowed to override treaty obligations. As a result just as India and the United States enjoy a nuclear cooperation regime parallel to the global norm, Pakistan and China do too. Both Pakistan and India diverted civilian technology to make nuclear weapons and both nations now submit to extensive IAEA inspections, yet granting trade opportunities to one but not to the other are bound to raise tensions, especially since Pakistan is in the middle of a crippling energy crisis. If the NPT has ceased to hold weight for India than it must be relaxed for Pakistan too. The duplicity is not only defeating the legitimacy of global non-proliferation efforts but is also adding to Pakistan’s sense of injustice.