William Burns on India-Pakistan

In his book, W Burns included this anecdote, which I had never heard:

Pakistan remained a neuralgic topic; despite the president’s best efforts with Singh, and my own quiet conversations with Shivshankar Menon, the prime minister’s national security advisor, the Indians had no interest in opening up much with us about their relations with the Pakistanis. Active back-channel talks between them had nearly brought about a breakthrough over Kashmir and other disputes in the spring of 2007, but the collapsing political position of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had brought them to an abrupt halt, and they had made no more than fitful progress since then. We were increasingly worried about the risks of nuclear confrontation, but the Indians were not much interested in talking about their perceptions or how to avoid escalation, let alone any American mediation role.

Canada and Kyrgyzstan

About 2 weeks ago, Canada submitted this document to the recent BWC states-parties consultative meeting which contains a story which I’d never heard:

In August 2008, Canadian and Kyrgyz officials signed a legally-binding bilateral Agreement to cover construction of the new laboratory; the Treaty entered into force on 8 April 2009. The Treaty made clear that the new Facility was to be fully owned and operated by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic after its completion. A copy of the Treaty (which was concluded in English, French, Kyrgyz and Russian) was made public at the time and is available on the Government of Canada website.

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In early 2011, as the $50 million contract for construction of the facility was being finalized, the project became the target of an aggressive, sustained and completely unfounded disinformation campaign. The campaign was led by a relatively small group of protestors, who Canada assessed to have ulterior motives and to be supported and encouraged by external backers.

As a direct result of the disinformation campaign, which created intense pressure for the Kyrgyz Government, just days before construction of the new Facility was set to commence the Kyrgyz Government advised Canada that the laboratory could not be built at the agreed site. As the Facility was designed for construction on this specific plot of land – taking into account unique seismic, topographical, geological, environmental and hydrological conditions – Canada concluded that it could not be built elsewhere without substantial, lengthy and very costly modifications. As a result, in September 2011 Canada informed the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic that it was no longer in a position to move forward with the laboratory Project.

PAEC Facilities

From this article:

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission started operation of the first nuclear power plant of the country at Karachi in 1971. The Indian nuclear explosion in 1974 forced the PAEC authorities to strengthen its efforts for indigenous manufacture of spare parts, components and equipment. Scientific and Engineering Services Directorate (SES) was established at Islamabad in 1984 with a mandate to establish infrastructure facilities in design and engineering, fabrication and welding, machining, testing, quality assurance and control, and non-destructive testing to gear up the indigenous manufacturing of mechanical equipment and parts. 

Brazil on Nuclear Submarine Program

Brazil submitted this document to the RevCon titled Brazil’s Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programme and the Safeguards Regime under the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Here’s a section titled “Rationale for the nuclear propulsion programme:”

Brazil is both a continental and a maritime country. It exercises rights of jurisdiction over economic resources in an area of approximately 4.5 million km2 off its extensive coastline up to the outer limits of its continental shelf, defined in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This is an area of vital economic and strategic importance to Brazil, as it contains significant oil and gas reserves, among other mineral as well as living resources. Close to 85 per cent of Brazil’s oil extraction and 75 per cent of its gas extraction are carried out in this maritime area, while 95 per cent of the country’s foreign trade passes through sea routes. It is therefore essential for Brazil to effectively exercise surveillance, control and defence of its jurisdictional waters.

A nuclear-powered submarine capability will contribute to the defence and preservation of Brazilian national interests in the maritime domain, particularly in the South Atlantic, thereby enabling the protection of resources and trade routes and the maintenance of free navigation. The programme will also contribute to promoting Brazil’s defence industrial base and potential spin-offs for civilian applications of associated advanced technologies. Achieving autonomy in these areas is an indispensable part of Brazil’s efforts towards sustainable development for future generations.

France and Nuclear Doctrine

France issued this statement during the RevCon about its nuclear weapons program. Here’s one relevant portion:

i. National security policies, doctrine and activities associated with nuclear weapons


The French doctrine is presented publicly on a regular basis. Its basic tenets may be found, specifically, in the speeches of the President of the French Republic, the most recent of which was delivered in Paris on 7 February 2020; in the white papers on national defence and security, the latest of which was made public in 2013; and in the strategic review of defence and national security, the latest issue of which was published in 2017 and updated in January 2021 (strategic update).


These communications reaffirm the validity and principles of nuclear deterrence as understood by France, and help build confidence. Regular public communications such as these are necessary to reaffirm the coherence and consistency of the national nuclear deterrence doctrine over time. The reiteration of these previously stated principles is valuable, as it creates predictability and therefore improves stability.


The role of nuclear weapons in French defence and security doctrine is to “protect France and the French people from any threat of State origin against our vital interests, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes”,1 in extreme circumstances of self-defence. The independent nuclear deterrence of France is also aimed at permanently guaranteeing the country’s decision-making autonomy and freedom of action within the framework of its international responsibilities, including against any attempts at blackmail that may be made in the event of a crisis. Nuclear deterrence thus constitutes the ultimate guarantee of the nation’s security, sovereignty and independence.

The fundamental principles of French nuclear deterrence are:


(a) Political control of nuclear weapons. France emphasizes the political dimension of nuclear weapons. The President of the Republic has the ultimate responsibility for the use of such weapons. The President is solely responsible for determining the alert level of the nuclear forces and for their potential engagement. The control of those forces is therefore strictly political and circumscribed by legal procedures.


(b) Nuclear weapons: designed to deter, not to be used. In the French doctrine of deterrence, nuclear weapons are not battlefield weapons but a means of deterring a potential adversary from attacking vital national interests, protecting our freedom of action and enabling us to take our own decisions in all circumstances. For deterrence to work, the circumstances under which nuclear weapons would be used are not, and should not be, precisely defined, so as not to enable a potential aggressor to calculate the risk inherent in a potential attack.

(c) Strictly defensive nuclear deterrence. France does not threaten any State, and its deterrence is not targeted. France has reiterated that on many occasions. Potential adversaries must, however, be aware that if they “should underestimate the visceral attachment of France to its freedom and consider attacking our vital interests, whatever they may be”,2 our nuclear forces would be capable “of inflicting absolutely unacceptable damage on its centres of power, that is to say, on its critical, political, economic and military centres”.3


(d) Use only in extreme circumstances of self-defence. The nuclear doctrine of France is clearly governed by the right enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.


(e) Sole, one-time-only nuclear warning. Should there be any doubt as to the determination of France to protect its vital interests, “a sole, one-time-only nuclear warning” could be given to the aggressor in order to clearly demonstrate that the nature of the conflict has changed, and thus re-establish deterrence.


(f) Application of the principle of strict sufficiency. France adjusts the level and characteristics of its arsenal to the strategic context and the minimum level needed to ensure its security. The strict sufficiency threshold is determined through a national analysis of the strategic context and is not directly related to the nuclear capabilities of other States.


(g) Security assurances. The security assurances provided by France to all non-nuclear-weapon States that are parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and comply with their international non-proliferation obligations are regularly reaffirmed. These security assurances are derived from:

– The French doctrine of deterrence, inasmuch as it unambiguously and consistently sets out the strictly defensive role of deterrence.


– The statement made on 6 April 1995, whereby France reaffirmed, to all non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the security assurances it had given in 1982. The Security Council took note of that statement in its resolution 984 (1995) and recalled it in its resolutions 1887 (2009) and 2310 (2016). France considers this commitment legally binding and therefore considers itself fully bound by it and intends to apply it in good faith.


– The signing of the protocols to the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, which cover more than one hundred States (see section II).
These commitments do not affect the right to self-defence as enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.

AUKUS Statement Battle

China recently issued its Working Paper on the Nuclear Submarine Cooperation under AUKUS which describes the AUKUS submarine project as “nothing but an act of nuclear proliferation.”

A couple of days later, Australia circulated a non-paper titled Update on Cooperation under the AUKUS Partnership which informs us that

No decisions have been taken regarding the structure of our future cooperation under AUKUS, or a suitable verification arrangement for the IAEA to meet its technical objectives regarding Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines. We expect to be able to announce further details following the consultation period, which concludes in March 2023.

Pakistan on Kashmir and Nuclear Weapons

From an August 5 letter from Pakistan to the UNSC:

the absence of any dialogue on the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the ever-present threat of conflict between two nuclear-armed States, the international community cannot allow the situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir to deteriorate further with the attendant threat to international peace and security.

Norway on NATO Unity and Nuclear Weapons, 2018

More from that 2018 report:

In the past, there has been open disagreement in Nato about its nuclear deterrence policy. This was particularly apparent in 1979 when Nato made its dual-track decision. The countries that had reservations about the decision expressed this through dissenting footnotes in various subsequent Nato declarations. This footnote policy significantly weakened the influence of the countries concerned on Nato policy, and undermined unity within the Alliance.

Norway on TPNW, 2018

In 2018, Norway’s Parliament “requested the Government to review the consequences for Norway of ratifying the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” Here’s the report.

Here’s the assessment:

The Government attaches great importance to Norway’s Nato obligations. Nato membership is the cornerstone of Norway’s security and defence policy, and the Alliance must not be undermined. Ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by Norway or by any of the other Nato Allies would cause divisions in the Alliance. This would primarily serve the interests of countries that pose a security threat to Norway and other Nato members.


Norway and Nato share the goal of achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons. This process will depend on the participation of all countries that have nuclear weapons. If Nato were to abandon its own nuclear deterrence but nuclear-weapon states outside the Alliance did not, this would make Norway and the Alliance vulnerable and create a dangerous strategic imbalance. Given the strategic importance of nuclear weapons in security policy, the Treaty has limited potential as a tool for applying political pressure.