"The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with the nuclear test, does not view assistance -- even sizable assistance to their own entities -- as a trade-off for national security vis-a-vis India". US Ambassador Anne Patterson, September 23, 2009
Having failed to persuade, intimidate, bribe and sanction Pakistan to abandon its nuclear weapons program, there are credible reports that Washington is now ready to accept Pakistan as a legitimate nuclear weapons state in exchange for limiting the range of the country's ballistic missiles.
Washington is abuzz with the news of major think tank analyses and credible media reports indicating that the October 22, 2015 Obama-Sharif summit agenda includes US-Pakistan civil nuclear deal along the lines of India-US civilian nuclear deal.
According to a Washington Post report, the deal with Pakistan centers around a civilian nuclear agreement similar to the one the United States arrived at with India, in exchange for a Pakistani commitment that would "restrict its nuclear program to weapons and delivery systems that are appropriate to its actual defense needs against India's nuclear threat."
As part of such a deal, the United States will support an eventual waiver for Pakistan by the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which the United States is a member. At U.S. urging, that group agreed to exempt India from rules that banned nuclear trade with countries that evaded the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This so-called “civil nuclear agreement” allowed India partial entry into the club of nuclear powers, in exchange for its willingness to apply International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to its civilian program, according to the Washington Post's veteran columnist David Ignatius.
Prior to the Washington Post report, the Washington-based Stimson Center and the Carnegie Endowment think tanks published a 20,000-word essay on Pakistan’s nuclear program and diplomatic ambitions last week. Written by Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon and titled "Nuclear Mainstream", it recommends Pakistan to agree to meet five conditions for its nuclear mainstreaming:
(1) Shift from the full spectrum deterrence to strategic deterrence
(2) Limit production of tactical weapons or short range delivery weapons
3) Become amenable to talks on the fissile material cut off treaty (FMCT)
4) Delineate civil and military nuclear programs
5) Sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Given Pakistan's growing energy needs, the country will most likely engage with the United States to try and get a stamp of legitimacy from the NSG. However, the Washington Posts's Ignatius believes that such "negotiations would be slow and difficult, and it's not clear that Islamabad would be willing to accept the limitations that would be required." Meanwhile, the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Washington on October 22.
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