The United States and Pakistan are heading towards a confrontation as the Obama administration is preparing to pursue Islamabad to halt the production of nuclear bomb materials by forcing it to sign the Fissile Material Cut off Treaty, a media report said on Friday.
United States plans to launch an open move with support from other powers to force Pakistan to sign the treaty and halt the production of nuclear bombs material.
Recent reports in the US media suggest that the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month will be the venue for this new push, a move that could aggravate tensions with Pakistan. The US has the support of four declared nuclear powers for its move, Dawn newspaper reported.
The US media reported that the Obama administration had won China's support for finalising the FMCT. At a recent conference in Paris, Russia, France and Britain "all declared nuclear powers like China" also supported the US plan.
It is, however, not clear if China would back the move to cap Pakistan's nuclear capability. The US and its allies are seeking an agreement by September and then go to the UN General Assembly with a joint plan for starting talks on the FMCT.
So far Pakistan has successfully resisted all international pressure to endorse the FMCT, warning that it would boycott any process to negotiate a US-backed treaty outside the deadlocked UN Conference on Disarmament. The Geneva-based UNCD is the sole negotiating forum for multilateral disarmament but the treaty has been stalled in the conference for 12 years, with Pakistan as the sole holdout against negotiations.
The US move aims at creating a new forum where it can persuade Pakistan to sign the FMCT. "Our preference is to negotiate an FMCT within the Conference on Disarmament, but that body has been deadlocked by Pakistan," US Under-secretary of State Ellen Tauscher told a seminar on July 28 in Lafayette, California.
"Thus the US is joining with other key countries to start preparations for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty elsewhere until the conference can get down to work," she said. Pakistan's acting representative to the UN, Raza Bashir Tarar, last week told a general assembly meeting in New York that his country "will not join any such process nor would it consider accession to the outcome of any such process."
To deal with increasing international pressure to stop the production of fissile material, Pakistan tried unsuccessfully to enter into a nuclear agreement with the US similar to the one Washington has signed with India.