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American nuclear moves

Recent moves by the US as well as certain European allies to have this country grey-listed by the summer may have taken a turn for the worse. At least if Washington were to have its way. For the latter is seemingly going all out to have Islamabad join Pyongyang on the FATF blacklist. For it has this week imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani companies that it believes pose a significant risk to American national security and policy interests. Or put another way, Washington strongly suspects these entities of having engaged in illegal nuclear trade.
These latest machinations could, in theory, jeopardise Pakistan’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Application to this elite 48-nation-strong club, which is allowed to trade fissile materials and atomic technologies, was made back in 2016. And it was aimed at countering fears that the US and certain western allies were supporting India’s own admission efforts.
Yet there may or may not be more to this than the NSG. Meaning that the timing of sanctions is being read here in Pakistan as being somewhat suspect. After all, earlier this month, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano was in town to check nuclear safety protocols, among other things. And he gave the country a clean chit; while commending Pakistan’s partnership with the global atomic watchdog. Though President Trump is not known for having his head turned; at least not by experts in this particular field. For he still appears hellbent on tearing up the Iran nuclear accord despite IAEA assertions that the latter is playing by the rulebook.
What Pakistan needs to remember is that dialogue is always preferable to confrontation. Especially if it wants to keep its newfound regional allies on side. Yet above and beyond this, Islamabad must not lose sight of the fact it does in fact hold the key to the US exit from the Afghan quagmire of its own making. And a gentle reminder of this from time to time may not be entirely amiss.



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