ISLAMABAD – Pakistan fears Japan’s signing of a civilian nuclear technology deal with India could undermine regional stability, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, while asking the international community not to discriminate against his country in favor of its neighboring archrival.
The official, Nafess Zakaria, responding to a Kyodo News query on Friday’s deal inked during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo, urged Japan and other countries “to objectively assess the consequences of discriminatory approaches to our region.”
Pakistan, he said, considers the exemption granted to India by the Vienna-based Nuclear Suppliers Group, effectively allowing the South Asian country to expand its nuclear power industry, “has negatively impacted the strategic balance in the region.”
“It has allowed India to gain access to foreign sources of nuclear fuel and freed up its domestic reserves which are being utilized for rapid expansion of its military nuclear program,” he said, adding, “We have taken up the issue … with the Japanese side.”
Pakistan has sought similar treatment since 2008 when the NSG — a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons — exempted India from its ban against selling to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But Pakistan’s track record as a nuclear proliferator has made that difficult to achieve.
Neither Pakistan nor India, which have both tested nuclear weapons and fought three wars since their 1947 split, have signed the NPT.
Under the civilian nuclear cooperation pact inked in Tokyo, which paves the way for Japan to export nuclear materials and technology to India, the latter is required to use them for peaceful purposes only, and not for research or development aimed at improving their nuclear weapons capability.
Under the pact, India will be allowed to reprocess supplied and produced nuclear materials and byproducts, but cannot make highly enriched uranium, which potentially could be used in the production of nuclear weapons, without Japan’s consent.
Tokyo can halt its nuclear cooperation if New Delhi breaches its 2008 commitment to a moratorium on nuclear testing.
India has already signed such nuclear deals with France, Russia and the United States, among other countries. Pakistan, by contrast, enjoys nuclear cooperation only with China.
Zakaria said all the NSG countries including the United States — which backs India’s membership in the 48-member body but not that of Pakistan — should adopt objective, nondiscriminatory criteria “which are not only promoting nonproliferation objectives but they promote strategic stability in South Asia.”