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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Pakistan’s impeccable nuclear record

Pakistan first tested nuclear weapons in May 1998 in response to nuclear tests by its regional rival, India. The program owes its success in part to A.Q. Khan’s clandestine international nuclear smuggling network. Pakistan has vastly expanded its nuclear forces and remains outside the NPT regime. Pakistan has also hosted a number of IAEA-sponsored events for national as well as regional capacity-building initiatives

The Board of Governors (BoGs) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 14 September 2021 approved the Nuclear Security Plan 2022-2025. According to the report, “Through General Conference resolutions, member states have asserted that the responsibility for nuclear security within a state rests entirely with that state and that they are mindful of the responsibilities of every member state, in accordance with its respective national and international obligations, to maintain at all times effective and comprehensive nuclear security of all nuclear and other radioactive material.” It proves that Pakistan has always surpassed when it comes to nuclear records.

In recognition of its contributions to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, Pakistan has yet again been elected as a member of the BoGs of IAEA for the next two years (2021-2023). It is pertinent to note that Pakistan has been elected 20 times to the coveted Governors board in the past and has been playing a significant role in the formulation of the agency’s policies and programs. While it’s a major diplomatic achievement for Pakistan, it also represents global recognition of Pakistan’s status as a responsible nuclear power and indicates Pakistan’s sheer commitment to the peaceful application of nuclear technology.

Read more: Pakistan nuclear technology helped country earn $7.4 bn

How Pakistan will contribute to IAEA?

As IAEA Board Member, Pakistan will continue to play its role in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a wide range of applications including energy, agriculture, industry, human health, and most importantly medical field. As a founding member of IAEA, Pakistan has gained and shared experience and expertise with IAEA members. IAEA and the International community’s confidence in Pakistan’s peaceful nuclear expertise is indeed welcoming.

Chairman Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Dr. Muhammad Naeem in his address at the 65th General Conference of the IAEA highlighted Pakistan’s contributions towards peaceful applications of nuclear technology and its positive implications on Pakistan’s socio-economic development. He re-emphasized that Pakistan strongly supports the Agency’s role in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology in accordance with the IAEA motto “Atoms for Peace and Development”.  He also mentioned that Pakistan is forging ahead to expand the share of nuclear power in the national energy mix not only to meet its growing energy demands but also to mitigate the impact of climate change by adopting and expanding a carbon-free and reliable source of energy.

The safe and secure operations of nuclear power plants (NPPs) and research centers have been a hallmark of PAEC which is responsible to oversee the peaceful applications of nuclear technology in Pakistan. For more than 40 years, Pakistan has successfully operated NPPs without any safety and security incident, which, in itself, is a great achievement. Scientists and engineers from Pakistan have contributed to the agency’s work globally. For the last several decades, PAEC has been able to maintain an enviable safety record. IAEA has therefore been frequently lauding Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security arrangements.

Pakistan for the first time on 21 September 2021 has showcased its achievements in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology before the global community at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. IAEA’s Deputy Director-General Najat Mokhtar on the occasion appreciated Pakistan saying that Pakistan “had made great strides in harnessing nuclear technologies for pursuing socio-economic development.” Besides its excellent safety and security mechanism, Pakistan has also hosted a number of IAEA-sponsored events for national as well as regional capacity-building initiatives for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Read more: 100 million deaths and more: The cost of an India-Pakistan nuclear war

Pakistan’s success story

In spite of the fact that Pakistan’s peaceful nuclear program became a great success story; it is still subjected to politically motivated narratives and fake news. These narratives aren’t just unfounded but also damaging Pakistan’s image as a responsible nuclear state. Although Pakistan has remarkable experience in the safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants, it is often subjected to international discrimination. Similarly, unjust international practices, such as country-specific exemption in the case of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership and nuclear technology denial by the global powers hurt Pakistan’s energy security and its commitment to protecting the environment.

Pakistan has faced severe challenges and discriminatory behavior over the years in trading material for civil nuclear technology, despite its achievements. Therefore, it is crucial for the global community to dispel the false impression of Pakistan promoted by politically motivated circles. As a prerequisite for strengthening international nuclear commerce and nonproliferation regimes, the international community must make room for Pakistan to be treated equally.

Read more: Pakistan’s nuclear hero, A.Q khan dies at 85

Keeping in view Pakistan’s consistent effort to promote peaceful usage of nuclear technology, one can expect fair treatment by the global community to encourage Pakistan to play an even active role in global nuclear cooperation. The 20-times member of BoGs of IAEA deserves recognition and more cooperation from the international community. The unjust saga of discrimination must end, allowing Pakistan to make meaningful contributions in peaceful nuclear cooperation for its people and world community.


The writer is a Senior Research Officer, at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS), Islamabad. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.