NSG Waiver To India: Implications For Pakistan And Its Energy Market – Analysis


By Anum Fayyaz

Established in 1975, in response to 1974 Indian nuclear explosion Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is comprised of 45 nuclear supplier states. It aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. NSG members are expected to forego nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to international measures and inspections designed to provide confidence that their nuclear imports are not used to develop nuclear arms.

The NSG has two sets of Guidelines listing the specific nuclear materials, equipment, and technologies that are subject to export control.

List-I (INFCIRC/ 254, Part-I)  governs the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use e.g. nuclear material, nuclear reactors and equipment therefor; non-nuclear material for reactors, plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production; and technology associated with each of these items. List-II (INFCIRC/254, Part-II) governs the export of nuclear related dual-use items and technologies, that is, items that can make a major contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity, but which have non-nuclear uses as well, for example in industry.

The NSG Guidelines aim to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices which would not hinder international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field. The NSG Guidelines facilitate the development of trade in this area by providing the means whereby obligations to facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation can be implemented in a manner consistent with international nuclear non-proliferation norms.

In July 2005, the United States agreed to work toward full civil nuclear cooperation with India. The NSG adopted a resolution by consensus to lift its embargo on nuclear commerce with India thus allowing her nuclear trade with NSG members.


This decision damaged the global nuclear non-proliferation efforts and also weakened the international safeguards system because it may lead to diversion of India’s indigenously-produced fissile materials to military programmes, as fuel for its civilian reactors would be imported. There is no consensus even on the penalties to be imposed on India if it tests its technology. But most importantly, it creates a new norm of discrimination that effectively kills the spirit of nonproliferation.

This NSG waiver actually is principal violation of article IV and VI of NPT which states that the principal of non-discrimination should be applied to all states and to pursue negotiations towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The “discriminatory waiver” provided to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group will “further accentuate the asymmetry in fissile material stockpiles in the region to the detriment of Pakistan’s security interests”.

Furthermore, US support for India’s membership of four multilateral export control regimes, namely MTCR, Wassanaar Arrangement, Australia Group and Zangger Committee had reinforced a pattern of “selective behavior” that undermined the international non-proliferation regime.

India got many advantages through this agreement, i.e. the agreement opens the door for cooperation in civil nuclear energy with other countries. The Agreement places India in a special category as a “State possessing advanced nuclear technology”, like the United States, with both parties “having the same benefits and advantages”. The Agreement provides for full civil nuclear energy cooperation covering nuclear reactors and aspects of the associated nuclear fuel cycle including enrichment and reprocessing. It also provides for nuclear trade; transfer of nuclear material, equipment, components, and related technologies and for cooperation in nuclear fuel cycle activities. The Agreement also provides for the development of a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India’s reactors. The application of IAEA safeguards is only to the transferred material and equipment. There is no provision that mandates scrutiny of their nuclear weapons programme or any unsafeguarded nuclear facility.

Pakistan’s concerns behind such developments are that there is no legally binding equipment regarding India’s fissile material production. The agreement is not facility specific which India is entering now and that the non-proliferation is actually based on trade.

The NSG waiver affects the global non-proliferation regime in general and Pakistan in particular. The scope of the treaty offers India the opportunity to further augment strategic reserves of stockpiles, and thus widen its disparity with Pakistan. India’s agreements with many countries – following the NSG waiver – will assure supply and enable it to process reactor-grade material. It would create an asymmetry in the fissile material stockpile between both the countries which would widen the disparity between India and Pakistan and would negatively impact the deterrence stability in South Asia.

The NSG waiver in favor of India, will boost India’s fissile material production and enhance its capacity to produce more sophisticated nuclear weapons, missiles and advanced conventional weapons which highlight the discriminatory trends in the global community that on one hand India is being aided in its buildup of fissile material and on the other hand, Pakistan is being pressurized at the international fora. These biased policies would negatively impact Pakistan.

These developments would lead to an arms race in triangular equation in the region affecting Pakistan, India and China. Pakistan’s firm position argues for the future of the non- proliferation agenda. Central to the debate is the question of verification and principle of non-discrimination as stated in the Shannon Mandate that a “non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable” treaty should be negotiated.

Pakistan has a small nuclear power program, with 725 MWe capacity, but plans to increase this substantially. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capabilities of has arisen independently of the civil nuclear fuel cycle, using indigenous uranium. Currently there are three Operating Nuclear Power Reactors in Pakistan, which includes KANUUP which is Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) and Chashma 1 and Chashma 2 which are Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). In Pakistan, nuclear power makes a small contribution to total energy production and requirements, supplying only 2.34% of the country’s electricity.

Pakistan has long demanded that any treaty that bans the production of fissile material must address future production and existing disparities in stocks, in which Pakistan has issues with India.

We must also remain firm on our stance on Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) because otherwise Pakistan’s national interests would be at stake.

This is the time to improve the international security environment and create a climate of trust and promote the non-discriminatory attitude and address the security and defense issues of each country involved. And in such a manner, the non-nuclear weapon states can also be formally brought into the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and in close cooperation with NPT state parties.

Coming to the end, I would just conclude on the thought that nuclear energy is a vital economic security need of the country and that the international community, must recognize Pakistan as a nuclear power and must be given equal rights and responsibilities in this regard because “Pakistan is capable of providing nuclear fuel cycle services, under the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) safeguards.


Anum Fayyaz has done a M.Sc. Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and is currently working as a Research Fellow at South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI).

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