Why a “Nuclear Deal” With Pakistan Is Not Realistic, Timely, or Wise

House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing, “Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences”

December 08, 2015

Testimony
Testimony by CFR fellows and experts before Congress.

Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adjunct Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia Daniel S. Markey discussed the ramifications of a potential civil nuclear agreement with Pakistan. He concluded that pursuing a nuclear deal with Pakistan at this time is unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise. 

A serviceman from Pakistan is watched by a referee as he fires an anti-aircraft missile.

Main Takeaways:

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Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

  • Not only is the discussion surrounding a nuclear deal poorly timed, it would be more likely to prove counterproductive to other near term U.S. security interests.
  • Pakistan is unlikely to agree to any deal that limits the future growth of its nuclear program, as there is nothing Washington can offer that would make Islamabad take steps it believes are contrary to vital national security interests.
  • Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has always been justified as a deterrent against Indian aggression, and there is no indication that Pakistan’s military leadership is inclined to place voluntary limits on the growth of its nuclear program. India, as a rising power, is expanding its military to compete not only with Islamabad but also with Beijing, and this triangular security dilemma between China, India, and Pakistan favors persistent competition, most of all by the weakest player.
  • These more pressing, non-nuclear concerns for U.S. policymakers include the Pakistani military’s selective targeting of militant and terrorist groups, the Islamabad’s commitment to advancing any “reconciliation” process with the Afghan Taliban, continually troubled relations with India, and ongoing counterterror and counterinsurgency campaigns inside Pakistan.

More on:

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Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament

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