US sanctions on Pakistani companies could boost India's NSG bid
On the back of passing a spending bill which incorporates US President Trump's warnings of freezing security aid, the US has added seven Pakistani companies to the list of foreign entities that are subject to sanctions in the form of stringent export control measures.
The USA's increasingly tough stance on Pakistan
The $1.3 trillion spending bill recently passed by the US government for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, incorporates Donald Trump's threats of freezing aid to Pakistan. Following Trump's freezing of $1.15bn in security aid in January, the bill froze an additional $33mn financial assistance.
The seven Pakistani companies were involved with sanctioned nuclear-related entities
Three Pakistani companies were added to the sanctions list because of "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".
Two companies were found to be procuring supplies for nuclear-related entities already on the sanctions list.
And the last two are believed to be fronts for already-sanctioned entities.
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Inclusion in sanctions list is "highest level of red-flag"
Notably, inclusion in the US list of entities for sanctions is considered to be the "highest level of red-flag" that there is in the US export control regime, aimed at preventing misuse of American dual-use technology (which has potential for civilian and non-civilian use) for undeclared purposes, mostly military.
It's not clear whether these sanctions are part of Trump's general hard stance on Pakistan.
Pakistan's NSG bid dealt significant blow by new sanctions
The new additions to the entity list were described by officials as "proof of Pakistan's continued dishonesty and duplicitousness" pertaining to nuclear arsenals.
With Islamabad's already poor public record of proliferation - helping North Korea, Libya and Iran - coupled with the new sanctions, Pakistan could find it hard to push for entry into the NSG, which accepts members on the principle of consensus.
Interestingly, India's NSG bid strengthened following US sanctions on Pakistan
The NSG is the only major export control group that New Delhi isn't part of yet - India is already a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
With India's "unmatched" record in ensuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and with Pakistan's dreams of making it to the NSG threatened, India has better chances now, Indian officials believe.
Nuclear Suppliers Group
US Pakistan Relations
Missile Technology Control Regime