WASHINGTON: The United States has again advised Pakistan to curtail its nuclear weaponry and stockpile.
The issue remained on the agenda in bilateral ministerial meeting here on Monday. The Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, held the sixth round of strategic dialogue which discussed the progress of at least six working groups on various topics.
In his opening remarks before the meeting, Secretary Kerry suggested that Pakistan should consider cutting down its nuclear arsenal. He said nuclear safety was of obvious concern to both countries and he expected that both would “continue to discuss the obligations of being a responsible state with nuclear weapons in the coming years”.
He expanded on his point by citing the example that the US once had 50,000 warheads pointed at another country or entity, the Soviet Union, while the Soviet Union was reciprocating the same way. “It took two presidents — President Gorbachev and President Reagan — in a meeting to decide that that it didn’t make sense and we have moved in the completely opposite direction,” he said. Kerry pointed out that Russia and the US were operating under a treaty that allows about 1,500 or so nuclear warheads, and were seeking to reduce that. “I think it’s important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and center of its policy,” Kerry emphasised.
The secretary said that the point would be raised with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when the latter would participate in the Nuclear Security Summit by the end of this month.
The Pakistani side responded that Pakistan had a complex geo-political history. “Instead of being viewed through lenses borrowed from the East or the West, Pakistan must be afforded its own strategic space,” Sartaj Aziz said.
He offered a new eight-point agenda to be included in the strategic talks, and sought nuclear mainstreaming. “Our engagement on non-proliferation and strategic stability will continue and Pakistan hopes to see greater US understanding of Pakistan’s security concerns and its desire to contribute actively as a mainstream nuclear power,” Sartaj added.
Pakistan has already announced that its nuclear arsenal is for deterrence. It has clarified that it will not accept any unilateral curbs until the process applies on India as well.