Safety and security of Pakistan nukes
Though there has always been a hue and cry in international arena about the security of Pakistani nuclear weapons, yet nobody discussed that Pakistan has adopted an effective mechanism for the security of nuclear facilities. In the wake of terrorist attack on World Trade Center it is generally recognized that international terrorist and the possibility of use of weapon of mass destruction by terrorist constituted a threat to all states of the world. Though it is a global problem yet many skeptics took Pakistan nukes as inadequate and Pakistan was considered as a heaven for the terrorists.
In his address to the nation General Pervaiz Musharruf said, “Security of nuclear assets is one of my priorities. They are absolute secure.”
Following study is an attempt to critically analyze the risk associated with Pakistan’s nuclear capability.
Post 9/11 Scenario and propaganda against Pakistan’s Nuke
Hypothetical threat scenarios have been formulated after 9/11. David Albriet, Kavin O’Neil and Corey Hinderstein argued “a troubling question in the current situation is that a nuclear or fissile material could fall into wrong hands. Moreover the available information suggests that the statements given by the Pakistan officials made the situation bleaker. Mansoor Ijaz said, “The main security problem posed by Al-Qaeda today is access to radioactive materials in Pakistan (Mansoor Ijaz and R James Woolsey, “How Secure is Pakistan’s Plutonium?” The New York Times November 28, 2001).
The matter became worse when the atomic bomb of Pakistan was hailed as Islamic Bomb that could be used to defend the broader interest of the Muslim World.
In 1993, Seymour M Harsh, an American Journalist published a fake article in the New Yorker in which he claimed that US Satellites detected a convoy of truces moving out of Kahoota, Pakistan’s Uranium enrichment facility, towards an air base where F-16 fighter jets stood ready.
Facts about security of Indian Nuclear Weapons
The Western Powers and USA while ignoring the facts about Indian nukes keep on creating propaganda against Pakistan’s nukes. In the context of nukes India’s nuclear facilities are more vulnerable to nuclear terrorism.
Case No.1: On August 27, 2001, the police in West Bengal (India) disclose that it had arrested two men with more than two hundred grams of semi-processed uranium.
Case No.2: On July 23, 1998, India Center Bureau of Intelligence seized 6 kg of uranium from GR Aroon, a city engineer, and S Murthy, his associate in Tamil Nadu. The scientists at the Indra Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Culpkan, stated that the seized uranium was capable of radiation emission, having energy corresponding to natural uranium – 238 and U- 235.
According to and Indian parliamentary report 145 mishaps or safety related unusual occurrences were reported between 1995 to 1998 in Indian Atomic Energy Plants.
Case No.3: On 4 January 2011, the Millan Missile, and anti-tank weapon, capable of carrying a nuclear war head, accidentally fired in the presence of the then Defense secretary, Mr. Yogendre Narain, at the Bharat Dynamics Limited. It left one quality control officer for the Millan missile programme dead and injured five others at the unit. This unit is located in a thickly populated part of Hyderabad city.
Pakistan’s steps to ensure security of nukes
Pakistan has always been sensitive to international nuclear related concerns. The nuclear history of Pakistan bears an ample testimony of this fact that Pakistan joined many treaties to ensure the safety of Nukes.
- On September 4, 2001 Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (1979).
- Pakistan is also a party of The Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and Nuclear Safety Convention.
- In January 2001, the government of Pakistan promulgated PNRA Ordinance establishing a complete independent authority called PNRA (Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority)
- Pakistan gave many proposals that turn deaf ear in international arena. The proposals were Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in South Asia, South Asia Zero Missile Zone, Mutual inspection by India and Pakistan of each others facilities etc.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Security Programme
Pakistan is not a part to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), therefore, all her nuclear facilities are not subject to IAEA safeguards. Pakistan relied on copying US tech.
Possibility of unauthorized use
In 1960 a more sophisticated system called Permission Action Link (PAL) was employed by USA in Pakistan for the security of Nukes. An electro mechanical device that prevents arming the weapon unless the true codes are inserted is also inducted in the security system of nukes. Moreover armed force of Pakistan have a strong chain of command and moral code of conduct so there is no chance for any unstable civilian or military officer of getting control of nuclear weapons.
Another possibility is that a person exercising political authority may himself go insane or behave irrationally like Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin but to counter this sort of situation National Command Authority (NCA) comprised of Employment Control Committee and Development Control Committee as well as Strategic Plan Division was created.
The scenario of an extremist taking over in Pakistan is in itself is hypothetical. Islamic parties in Pakistan are 10 to 15% of the population and they don’t have the support of people.
Theft of fissile material from Nuclear Facilities
It is not at all possible to steal fissile material from the nuclear facility of Pakistan because of the following reasons.
- Pakistan has very small fissile material stock piles. Institute of Science and International Security (ISIS) data on Global Stock of Nuclear Explosive Materials says that Pakistan possesses 0.84 tons out of the world stock of 3870 tons.
- The nuclear facility is located at a secret and highly guarded location
- PAEC has unblemished record of safety of nukes and other civilian projects, which are under safeguards and subject to periodic inspection by the IAEA.