According to a report published by the Washington Post, the United States and Pakistan are quietly negotiating an agreement which may result in a civil nuclear deal between the two countries. David Ignatius, an opinion writer for the Post wrote that, “The White House is exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems.” Any progress in this area would break a stalemate that has existed between the two countries since the United States discovered the existence of Pakistani’s nuclear program in the mid-1980s.
The report suggested that Pakistan may agree to limit its prized nuclear program to only those weapons and delivery systems that are appropriate for its defense needs against rival India. “Pakistan might agree not to deploy missiles capable of reaching beyond a certain range.”
In return, the United States might agree to support the issuance of a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Such a waiver would exempt Pakistan from certain rules that ban nuclear trade with countries not following the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States did something similar with India in 2005.
It is likely that any negotiations between Pakistan and the United States will have its hurdles and likely take time and patience. Pakistan honors its nuclear program and may be unwilling to accept the limitations necessary in order to secure a deal.
In addition to trying to reach a deal with Pakistan, the Post reports that, “The U.S. is quietly exploring some diplomatic options that could reduce the violence in Afghanistan.” This is even more important in light of recent violence in the region, including last week’s deadly attack on one of Afghanistan’s international hospitals. The group, Doctors Without Borders, alleges that the deaths of 22 patients and staff at the hospital in Kunduz was a war crime.
NATO commander, General John Campbell, said the attack was a mistake and the United States has promised to investigate the incident.
Four years ago, the United States determined that the best way to exit the Afghanistan conflict would be to reach a diplomatic settlement- that involved the Taliban and its Pakistani partners. Talks have taken place between all parties, but further talks are being postponed due to the recent violence.