Nuclear security requires utmost vigilance and preparation at all levels without any complacency. Pakistan accords utmost importance to nuclear security and that is why Pakistan has an excellent nuclear command and control structure. Pakistan has instituted measures in the broader realm of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear security which are legislative, legal, regulatory, institutional development, operational and enforcement, and international cooperation. However, Pakistan is still being brought into the spotlight for baseless remarks made internationally by the segments who just want to discredit Pakistan.
India’s non-proliferation record has always been problematic and the security of its nuclear infrastructure has always been questionable. India has a poor record of maintaining the security of its civil and military nuclear enterprise. Its nuclear program is not under IAEA safeguards, which could lead to nuclear terrorism, whereas, several incidents of Uranium theft have also been reported.
India also has been involved in nuclear proliferation activities in other countries, including Iran and Iraq. The most significant proliferation act was the diversion of nuclear energy into the nuclear weapon program in 1974, which led to the formation of NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group). The world, instead of keeping an eye on this irresponsible nuclear weapon state, maligns Pakistan without any evidence.
False accusations against Pakistan
Pakistan is the most secure state in terms of nuclear security, amongst the non-NPT states. It has established a comprehensive and effective national nuclear security regime that is at par with international standards and guidelines. Despite that Pakistan is often under the critical spotlight for security concerns, overlooking the flagrant security and safety loopholes of the other nuclear weapon state in South Asia.
Recently, there have been reports in British media regarding a package containing Uranium, found at London’s Heathrow Airport, originating from Pakistan. Though Pakistan Foreign Office has denied such allegations, why they have been made in the first place, without proper investigation, is highly irresponsible of the British media. This is an open attempt to defame Pakistan.
A shipment of Uranium has been intercepted at Heathrow Airport. Originating from Pakistan, it was put on a flight from Oman destined for Iranians based in Britain.
It is believed the purpose was to make a 'dirty bomb' for terrorist purposes. https://t.co/JUe2utne4w
— David Atherton (@DaveAtherton20) January 11, 2023
For the identification of the source of Uranium material, nuclear forensic needs to be done to trace the origin of radioactive material. When any radioactive material is found, experts gather and analyze the evidence, and the sample is compared with the other radioactive material in the specified country, which helps investigators track where the seized material came from. Nuclear forensics has not been done in this case, and Pakistan has been falsely blamed for being the original source.
Pakistan’s strict nuclear security
Pakistan has always been a responsible nuclear weapon state, and its safety and security records are impeccable. Pakistan has a comprehensive nuclear security regime, which comprises the legislative and regulatory framework which governs the security of nuclear material. Pakistan developed the National Command Authority as an effective and robust command and control structure. It is the apex decision-making body for all nuclear matters including nuclear security.
Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) is the competent and independent body for the regulation of nuclear safety, physical protection, radiation protection, transport, and waste safety in Pakistan. PNRA promulgated ‘Regulations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Installations’, which is consistent with the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and its 2005 amendment. The ‘Regulations on Security of Radioactive Sources’ is in line with the IAEA Code of Conduct on nuclear safety and security of radioactive resources and its two supplementary guidance documents.
Pakistan has developed a stringent export control system to monitor the items that could be used for the development of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons or their delivery systems. The Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) administers the export controls. The Export Control Act of 2004 is an effort of Pakistan to strengthen the control over exports of nuclear, biological, and related materials and their delivery systems.
The National Control Lists of Pakistan are comprehensive and are reviewed periodically, taking into consideration the changes made by the international export control regimes. The system for the classification of dual-use technology is consistent with the European Union integrated list.
Moreover, Pakistan very well contemplates that the weak security of nuclear and related material, like in India, could result in any kind of mishap, and thus vigorously enforces United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540. Pakistan has successfully implemented the IAEA nuclear security program. Pakistan contributes and benefits from the IAEA regarding the security of nuclear material in accordance with its mandate.
The nuclear security regime of Pakistan includes not only technological systems, but the human resources needed to manage, operate, administer, and maintain equipment. For that purpose, Pakistan has developed, the Pakistan Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS, NCA); the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS, PNRA); Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS, PAEC). Various national and international nuclear security courses are being conducted in collaboration with the IAEA. Moreover, Pakistan has been internationally endorsed by many experts for its effective security measures, even PCENS has been used as a training institution by IAEA.
Pakistan can further non-proliferation goals
Thus, Pakistan is contributing more to international non-proliferation efforts and through its highly responsible behavior makes sure no incident of theft or any other kind befalls. Still, Pakistan has been brought to unfavorable attention over such immature behavior of the media.
The international media, however, closes its eyes to India’s shenanigans, whose nuclear weapons are in the hands of a religious fundamentalist regime, and who over and again threaten its use just for their political motives. The real danger lies in India, where the nuclear weapon, since its inception, has been used as a political tool, and they are, thus, least interested in its protection, as we have seen numerous examples of nuclear theft in India.
Moreover, the world should play its role now. It is for the non-proliferation regime now to play its part and adopt a non-discriminatory and criteria-based approach in order to create space for Pakistan to become part of the non-proliferation regime, considering its excellent record and responsible behavior. Pakistan’s expertise, capabilities, and strong credentials of cooperation could help further the goals of the non-proliferation regime.
Moreover, it is India that needs to be schooled by the international nuclear establishment regarding the importance of securing nuclear and nuclear-related material for national, regional, and international security.
The writer is a Research Officer at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.