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U.S. negotiating civil nuke deal with Pakistan?

The Washington Post reported that the United States is negotiating a pact on new limits on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems, a deal that might lead to an agreement similar to the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear accord, ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to the U.S.  

Ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit here this month, the United States is negotiating a pact on new limits on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems, a deal that might lead to an agreement similar to the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal, according to a media report.

“Pakistan has been asked to consider what are described as ‘brackets’,” The Washington Post quoted a source familiar with the talks between the two countries as saying. It said Pakistan would agree to restrict its nuclear programme to weapons and delivery systems that were appropriate to its actual defence needs against India’s nuclear threat.

“Pakistan might agree not to deploy missiles capable of reaching beyond a certain range,” The Washington Post said.

Quid pro quo

In return for such an agreement, the U.S. might support an eventual waiver for Pakistan by the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which it is a member, the paper said.

“At U.S. urging, that group agreed to exempt India from rules that banned nuclear trade with countries that evaded the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” the paper said. It said that such an agreement might eventually “open a path toward a Pakistani version of the civil nuclear deal that was launched with India in 2005.” The White House neither confirmed nor denied the report.

‘In contact with Pakistan’

It just said that the U.S. was in regular contact with Pakistan on a range of issues ahead of Mr. Sharif’s trip.

“We are in regular contact with the government of Pakistan on a range of issues as we prepare for the visit on October 22 of Prime Minister Sharif. We’ll decline comment on the specifics of these discussions,” a senior Obama Administration official told PTI on condition of anonymity.

In recent past, the U.S. led international community had expressed concern over the fast growth of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The paper said the talks with Pakistan on this issue would be slow and take long.

Talks to be slow, difficult

“Pakistan prizes its nuclear programme, so negotiations would be slow and difficult, and it’s not clear that Islamabad would be willing to accept the limitations that would be required. But the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Sharif’s visit to Washington,” The Washington Post said.

“Any progress would break a stalemate that has existed since the U.S. detected Pakistan’s nuclear programme in the mid-1980s, and especially after Pakistan exploded its first weapon in 1998,” the daily reported.

The paper said a nuclear dialogue was especially important because it would begin to address what U.S. officials for two decades have viewed as one of the world’s most dangerous security problems.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 6:13:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-negotiating-civil-nuke-deal-with-pakistan/article7738339.ece

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