Missile proliferation and Pakistan
India has refused to participate in international efforts aimed at curbing the spread of ballistic missiles through an international agreement. How should Pakistan react to a probable International Code of Conduct against the Proliferation of Ballistic Missiles (ICOC)?
The first international conference to work out a draft of an International Code of Conduct against the Proliferation of Ballistic Missiles (ICOC) was held in February this year in Paris and was attended by more than 80 states. The initiative, led by France and supported by the United States, is rooted in a November 1999 plenary of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) held in the Netherlands and the MTCR’s Ottawa plenary meeting in September 2001 where the ICOC draft was approved. The February conference was followed last June by a conference in Madrid. Pakistan, a ballistic missile-capable state, attended the Paris and Madrid conferences. Other missile-capable states present included India, Russia, China, Israel, the United States and all the European Union states. The two missile-capable states that refused to attend either the Paris or Madrid rounds of ICOC were North Korea and Syria. While Iran attended the conference, it held to its demand that any movement on a missile-restraint regime must be made under the auspices of the United Nations. The Iranian position highlighted the fact that the ICOC has emerged from MTCR debates on how to place demand-side curbs on missile proliferation. Until now, the MTCR has focused on supply-side curbs.
India, which participated in the first two rounds, is not prepared to go through with the process now. The generic Pakistani policy on such issues, ranging from the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) to CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) and the stillborn FMCT (Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty) has been to react to India’s stance. But events since May 1998 have shown this to be a flawed policy. And since this initiative is far from any resolution in the near future, there is no reason for Pakistan to pull out just because India has decided to do so.
Specifically, there does not seem to be any agreement on the issue of legitimisation: does signing the ICOC legitimise the missile capability of, for instance, Pakistan or should possession of missiles be totally deligitimised? Clearly, the latter cannot be achieved without creating a normative foundation. But whether states possessing missiles will actually rollback their capability for such a normative foundation to be put in place is difficult to envision. And if possession at the time of signing does legitimise the capability, would there then be a curb on further development of the capability or will the kosher states be enabled to carry on without regard for the dispossessed? This would be akin to the NPT, which created haves and have-nots without binding the haves in any meaningful way to disarm and make the world more secure.
There is also the issue of how any such regime would treat the SLVs (Space Launch Vehicles), which can be used both for space research and for putting satellites in space as well as for ballistic missiles. Moreover, there are a host of other issues that remain contentious. A good strategy for Pakistan would be to remain close to the process rather than opt out at an early stage. Of course, it always has the option to walk out at any later stage. But given many reasons, quite unrelated to the issue of ICOC, Islamabad should curb the desire of playing a spoiler, especially when it does not involve any immediate threat to its core concerns. The exit, if and when it is deemed necessary, should flow from careful strategy than merely ape the Indian response. *
A deliberate leak in a US newspaper last month about Pakistan helping North Korea with its nuclear programme in exchange for getting missile technology know-how from Pyongyang has caused much speculation in international circles. While Pakistan has denied helping North Korea and reiterated its commitment to non-proliferation, and Washington has refused to comment on the newspaper report, nuclear security experts around the world seem convinced about its veracity. Why is that?
There are references to alleged visits to Pyongyang by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the tactless scientist widely regarded as the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, and to the “fact” that Pakistan’s Ghauri missiles have been reverse-engineered from North Korea’s Nodong missile. So there has to be a quid pro quo, it is argued. However, this “reasoning” cannot substitute for hard evidence. It is certainly insufficient to build a case and cannot be made the basis for pronouncing Pakistan as a proliferation culprit. Many scientists inside and outside Pakistan have pointed to the rudimentary nature of Pakistan’s and DPRK’s nuclear programmes, which essentially means that these countries did not really need outside help to pursue their programmes. Therefore, in the absence of any conclusive evidence, the issue boils down to one state’s word against another’s. That’s just not good enough. We suggest the international experts would be better off accepting Islamabad’s word on the issue. Further, as these experts know, no state possessing nuclear or missile capabilities can be entirely absolved of the charge of proliferation. *
Missile Proliferation And Pakistan
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