Wednesday, June 16, 2010

China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal Sparks U.S. Objection

The U.S. is still a global role model. It is important, therefore, that Washington pushes for compliance with international arms control agreements.  If the American government breaks the rules set out by these treaties, other nations will be emboldened to follow suit.  After the U.S. made a deal with India that violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), for example, China arranged to give two nuclear reactors to Pakistan, an agreement that also violated the treaty.  Given that the U.S. requires Beijing’s assistance in dealing with North Korea and Iran, many believed Washington would acquiesce to this deal. The Obama administration, however, now objects to China's nuclear commitment to Pakistan.

As a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), China is forbidden to export nuclear technology to non-members of the treaty, such as Pakistan. China argues that because work on two nuclear reactors for Pakistan occurred before it signed onto the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—an organization responsible to monitoring nuclear trade—this action is “grandfathered.”

To China and Pakistan, the Obama administration’s objection is hypocritical, as the U.S. provided Pakistan’s neighbor and rival, India, with nuclear technology even though it was not a member of the NPT, either. The U.S., however, argues that it received a special exemption from the NSG, something China did not. U.S. officials are expected to raise their objection at the NSG summit next week in New Zealand.

The U.S. objection, which it will make official next week, stems from proliferation fears, as Pakistan is home to the A.Q. Khan-network that enabled North Korea to acquire nuclear technology. In order for Washington to quell instances of nuclear proliferation, it must set a good example and abide by the rules of treaties of which it is a member.

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