A decision on Pakistans membership application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group will be discussed today at the NSG plenary in Seoul.

The decision to file an application seeking admission into the nuclear trade group was taken because Pakistan plans to generate forty thousand megawatts of electricity by constructing new nuclear power plants by 2050 to tackle the countrys growing demand for power.

As a member, Pakistan will be able to import the required reactors, components, and fuel that it will need to generate nuclear energy. Pakistan will also be able to offer other countries its expertise, manpower, and infrastructure along with NSG controlled items for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses.

The NSG was established as a reaction to Indias nuclear weapon test in 1974. Canada and the United States had supplied India with a nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. India violated their agreement and diverted the American supplied nuclear fuel to construct a nuclear bomb. Afraid of further proliferation, the Canadians and the Americans backed out of all civil nuclear agreements with India and Pakistan.

Four decades later, the effort may turn on its head if the same country that was the reason for NSGs creation becomes its member without taking its nonproliferation obligations seriously.

Pakistan was forced to pay for Indias crime. Whereas the Indians continued to proliferate with help from the Soviet Union, Pakistan was left on its owntaking the fall for Indias poor proliferation behavior.

CIRUS, the Canadian and U.S. supplied Indian reactor, which was used to build a nuclear bomb in 1974, was not under IAEA safeguards, which made it easy for India to proliferate. Having IAEA safeguards means that there is a system of inspection and verification in place to ensure nuclear material is not diverted for non-peaceful purposes.

In this sense Pakistan is different, every civil nuclear reactor is under IAEA safeguards, even when the Americans and Canadians pulled back from their commitments to Pakistan, the country continued to voluntarily keep all of its civil reactors under the safeguards. Also unlike India, Pakistan has never violated its peaceful uses obligations.

For this reason Pakistan today can boast of having more than four decades of experience in operating IAEA safeguarded nuclear power plants safely, securely, and independently.

There are three areas in which Pakistan can offer its services to the international community inline with global nonproliferation objectives. First is in the area of nuclear power generation, Pakistan has been operating the Canadian supplied Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP-1) independently since 1974. The Pakistan Nuclear Power Fuel Complex, established by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in 1977, provides the fuel required for the reactor. In addition, all components required to keep the plant upgraded and safely operating are also made by the PAEC. This is the kind of knowledge Pakistan can offer other States as a member of the NSG.

Second, Pakistan has tremendous amounts of experience with application of nuclear technology other than for power generation. This includes nearly four decades of expertise in nuclear medicine, nuclear applications for agriculture, and so on. Again, this is the kind of skills that Pakistan can share with States interested in acquiring this know-how. As an associate member of CERN, Pakistan already plays a vital role in nuclear researchdoing the same thing as an NSG member State will not be a big leap.

Third, and possibly the most important area of experience and knowledge that Pakistan can share are in nuclear safety, and security. A number of international organizations, world leaders, and experts in the field have recognized the excellent nuclear regulatory framework that Pakistan has in place. This is in addition to the praise Pakistan has received for its Center of Nuclear Excellence, where in collaboration with the IAEA, Pakistan has become a regional hub for training in nuclear security. As an NSG member State, Pakistan can become a global hub for this sort of education.

At the NSG plenary later this week in Seoul, the member States should seriously consider Pakistans application because the country has a legitimate need for access to nuclear technology, which can help it deal with the national energy crises. Pakistan will not only import nuclear technology, there is a remarkable number of services as well as products that Pakistan can also offer the international community.

Pakistan has a very ambitious plan for nuclear energy at home, and as an NSG member state it can achieve its goals, leading to greater socio-economic development, which in turn will help the global economy as well as improve the lives of its own population of nearly 200 million people.NSG Seoul Plenary

Muhammad Umar