Conscientious nuclear Pakistan

Conscientious nuclear PakistanUrooj Raza

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 – The possibility of nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands is a shared concern. Pakistan is part of global efforts to make sure that terrorists do not lay their hands on nuclear materials, knowledge and expertise. As far as the safety & security of the nuclear assets is concerned, the Pakistan military controls the nuclear weapons, and has instituted a range of measures to tighten controls over the nuclear weapons complex.

Pakistan accords the highest priority to ensuring a fool-proof safety and security mechanism for our nuclear programme. Pakistan has been an active member of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) and Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).

Ever since 1998, Pakistan has put in place an effective and efficient regulatory regime that encompasses physical protection of materials and facilities, material control and accounting, transport security, prevention of illicit trafficking and border controls, as well as plans to deal with possible radiological emergencies. Pakistan has also developed technical solutions, Personnel Reliability Programmes (PRP), and intelligence capabilities to deal with WMD-related terrorism.

According to Strategic Planning Division (SPD), over 8000 additional professionals are being trained at Pakistan’s specialized Nuclear Security Training Academy to assume their duties proficiently in a short period of time. This brings the number of specially trained personnel to the figure of over 20,000 personnel. Besides, a Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Coordination Center (NRECC) with fully equipped mobile labs, is working on technical assistance with law enforcement agencies and the first responders.

The conscientious Pakistan continue to refine and upgrade its technical and human resources and mechanisms on safety and security of nuclear weapons, materials, facilities, and assets. As Pakistan has gained considerable experience in the field of nuclear security, it has established a “Center of Excellence” ready to share nuclear experience and training facilities. Pakistan has subscribed to the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, and the IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB).

The escalation of the arms race in South Asia commenced when Obama administration signed US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement. In order to put right the balance of power, Pakistan demanded for a similar civil-nuclear deal. But the administration deflected on it. As Pakistan lives in a tough neighbourhood, therefore, it will never be oblivious to its security needs and should have deterrent capabilities as a nuclear power. Pakistani leadership is suspicious of US aims of controlling or limiting its weapons programme while favoring India.

In the backdrop of Mumbai terror attacks-2008, India’s threats of carrying out surgical operation inside Pakistan if action is not taken against the perpetuators, clearly shows that India wants to assert itself as a super power capable of conducting an unchecked forays into foreign domain. According to nuclear analysts, for India to launch Cold Start, would be to “roll the nuclear dice”. It could trigger the world’s first use of nuclear weapons. This alarming scenario point Pakistan in the direction of a larger nuclear force that requires a greater amount of fissile material. While analyzing the nuclear threat, it was generally agreed in the London meeting-2009, that India and Pakistan view each other as enemies. Nuclear weapons are crucial to Pakistan, because Pakistani military is no match for the Indian army.

Therefore, Pakistan is justified to work on producing smaller tactical nuclear weapons that can provide ‘deterrence’ against Indian nuclear might. However, Pakistan is determined to continue to follow a responsible policy of maintaining credible minimum deterrence in the nuclearized environment of South Asia. The spokesman of Pakistan Foreign Office said, “Pakistan is mindful of the need to avoid an arms race with India but would never compromise on its national security.”

All States need to shoulder their shared responsibility to strengthen regulatory mechanisms and establish effective barriers against the common threat of nuclear terrorism.

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