Islamabad’s NSG Ambitions Dashed? US Sanctions Seven Pakistani Firms For Nuclear Proliferation

Islamabad’s NSG Ambitions Dashed? US Sanctions Seven Pakistani Firms For Nuclear Proliferation Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif

Seven firms based in Pakistan have been put on the sanctions list by the United States in a move that has damaged Pakistan’s quest to become a member of the elite Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG), Times of India has reported.

According to the US Bureau of Industry and Security, the Pakistani companies that have been sanctioned are "reasonably believed to be involved, or ...pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States".

According to Dawn, three of the Pakistani companies have been added to the list for “their involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities that are contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy interests of the US”.

The move follows a series of steps taken by the US in the last few months to put pressure on Pakistan to act against terror. Just last month, the US convinced China and Saudi Arabia to give up their resistance to grey listing of Pakistan by the Financial Action Task Force for not doing enough to curb terror financing.

NSG is a grouping of countries set up to prevent nuclear proliferation. The group control access to sensitive nuclear equipment and technology. Pakistan had applied for the membership of the group soon after India submitted its bid.

While Pakistan has not been able to muster support for its bid as a result of its poor record on nuclear proliferation, India had managed to create some consensus in the body for its bid. India’s membership bid was supported by the US whereas Pakistan’s was supported by its all-weather ally China.

For a country to become a member of the NSG, support of all member countries is required. China has been scuttling India’s bid for long, saying Islamabad’s bid for membership should also be considered along with New Delhi’s.

With new sanctions on seven firms, Pakistan’s record has become much more difficult to defend before NSG member countries. The county, which has been accused of supplying nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya in the past, will find it difficult to muster support for its membership bid.