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Pakistan, US discuss accord which may lead to civil nuclear deal: report

WASHINGTON: Pakistan and the United States are negotiating for an accord which may end up in a civil nuclear deal between the two countries, a report published in The Washington Post claimed.

David Ignatius, in an opinion piece for the Washington-based paper said, “the White House is exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems.”

The US may be able to secure a civil nuclear deal in the near future with Pakistan, as it did with India in 2005, media report said. The newspaper quoting a source familiar with the talks said, “Pakistan has been asked to consider what are described as ‘brackets’.”

The report further suggested that Pakistan would agree to restrict its nuclear program to weapons and delivery systems that are appropriate to its actual defence needs against the Indian nuclear threat. “Pakistan might agree not to deploy missiles capable of reaching beyond a certain range,” it quoted as an example of the accord between the two countries.

In return Pakistan can get the US’ support for an eventual waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which the US is a member, the newspaper’s source claimed.

The same group, on the US’ nudging, had agreed to exempt India from rules that banned nuclear trade with countries that evaded the Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing the country a partial entry into the club of nuclear powers in exchange for its willingness to apply International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to its civilian programme.

The negotiations between the US and Pakistan on the deal would be slow and difficult due to the fact that if Pakistan would eventually be willing to accept the required restrictions.

The report revealed that the issue is being discussed quietly in advance to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Washington on October 22, 2015.

The dialogue comes in the wake of a recent surge of violence in Afghanistan, building pressure on the US to address the issues of the country it avoided a decade ago. “The US is quietly exploring some diplomatic options that could reduce the violence in Afghanistan,” the report said.

Considering the volatile situation of the region, the US is keen to adopt an aggressive diplomacy to reduce the Taliban’s threat which the Afghan government frequently blames to have been sponsored from Pakistan, a claim Pakistani officials have always denied.

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