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Nuclear security worries drive latest U.S. penalties on Pakistan

Entrance to U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call

The Commerce Department this week sanctioned seven Pakistani companies for alleged links to nuclear trade. Their place on an “Entity List” requires them to obtain special licenses to do business with the U.S.

This move follows other U.S. penalties against Pakistan, including a successful push to put Pakistan on a “gray list” of countries not doing enough to stem terrorist financing and a freeze on all U.S. security assistance to Pakistan. But Commerce’s action should not be seen as part of the existing campaign to pressure Pakistan to crack down harder on terrorists.

Why it matters: Commerce’s move does underscore Washington’s concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation record — even as nuclear watchdog groups cite improvements in Pakistan’s nuclear security.