Experts believe that pursuing global disarmament was unrealistic and feared that the beginning of nuclear weapons ban treaty talks at the United Nations could eventually throw up challenges for Pakistan’s position on Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT).
This was the gist of a discussion at a roundtable conference hosted by Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) on developments related to a proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons, here on Saturday.
The discussion titled ‘Nuclear Ban Treaty: Debating the Missing Link’ was attended by experts, academia, representatives of think tanks and government officials. Speaking on the occasion, visiting research fellow with CISS and postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Yale University Dr Christine Leah said she was opposed to nuclear disarmament because a substantial cut would bring back issues of conventional strategy.
She argued that conventional force balance received little attention in nuclear age, but once the concerns about nuclear weapons were to recede, deterrence would then rely on conventional force imbalance.
Dr Zafar Khan, who teaches at National Defense University Islamabad, opined that the “prospects for universal arms control and nuclear ban were dim”. He said for complete disarmament would have to address issues of discrimination, negative security assurances, conventional imbalances, conventional and nuclear force modernization, need for restructuring of non-proliferation regimes, and conflict resolution.
Talking about the implications for Pakistan, Dr Adil Sultan said the initiation of talks on a treaty could set up a precedent, which would be at some later stage applied to FMCT that was currently facing a deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament. He worried that FMCT could also be in future brought to UN on the pretext of breaking the impasse.
CISS Executive Director Amb Sarwar Naqvi said the concept of nuclear ban looked fanciful, but was a manifestation of human desire of creating an ideal world.
Strategic Vision Institute President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema cautioned against complete nuclear disarmament in the absence of a conventional arms control regime saying doing so could push the world into an era of destruction and chaos. “Idea of disarmament looks noble, but under what circumstances do we intend to achieve it,” he observed.
Brig (retd) Naeem Salik called global nuclear ban a “utopian idea” with very little practical value.