The US has imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani companies for nuclear proliferation, dealing a compelling blow to Islamabad’s hopes of becoming a member of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), reported Pakistani media.
This US move arrives within a month of terror financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, deciding to put Pakistan on its watchlist in June this year.
Together, both developments have dealt a body blow to Pakistan, which seeks equivalence with India which already has many nations supporting its bid to be a member of the NSG. In fact, India is already a member of the Australia Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Wassenaar Arrangement; membership to these entities is generally seen as precursor to being given NSG entry.
The elite NSG’s raison d’être is preventing nuclear proliferation. Being put on a US list of entities that engage in nuclear proliferation is considered the “highest level of red-flag” to the US’s mission to prevent the misuse or repurposing of American nuclear technology. And with the incrementing belligerence of North Korea drawing attention to long-held speculation that Pakistan assisted the rogue nation’s nuclear programme, things aren’t looking very good for Islamabad’s NSG ambitions.
These seven companies are “reasonably trusted 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”, said the US Bureau of Industry and Security, which added a total of 23 companies to a list of such entities, reported Dawn.
“The move forms a series of decisions aimed at putting a squeeze on Pakistan,” wrote Dawn, referring no doubt to the US freezing $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan in January, as well as well as $33 million freeze on financial assistance to Pakistan in this month’s draft spending bill in the US.
Of the seven Pakistani companies, three are listed for “their involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities that are contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy interests of the United States”, reported The Express Tribune.
Two were found procuring supplies for nuclear-related entities already on the list, and two others are suspected to be fronts for already-listed entities,” the Tribune added.
These seven companies have been sanctioned over and above seven others associated with Pakistan’s missile programme. Those were sanctioned in December 2016 also by the US department of commerce and also for “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the US.”