Nuclear Security Summit 2012, Time to dispel myths against , Pak nukes’ safety
January 20, 2012
The second Nuclear Security Summit will be held in Seoul in March 2012. The South Koreans have been engaged in setting its agenda. The participants of the summit would deliberate to constitute a strategy to prevent the nuclear and radiological terrorist attacks.
Although the focus of the summit would be on the prevention of nuclear/radiological terrorism, many security observers would use this occasion to express negativity about Pakistan’s nuclear program. The opponents of Pakistan’s nuclear program will definitely express their serious concerns about its nuclear program’s safety and security arrangements. The Western media has already started scrutiny process of Pakistan’s nuclear program. Many of them spelled out unjustifiable and illogical worst-case scenarios with respect to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. They always conclude, such as, ‘the weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and either being proliferated or inadvertently used’. One cannot simply ignore this propaganda because propaganda is a ready-made opinion for the unthinking herds.
Pakistani security observers need to constitute a counter narrative to share the realistic facts about their nuclear program, which is essential for the country’s defense. Indeed, one needs to carefully examine why many analysts have pessimistic approach towards Pakistan’s nuclear program. The objective response to this effect would certainly help counter the baseless propaganda. In addition, one needs to highlight Pakistani nuclear-scientific bureaucracy’s skills to address the safety aspects of the program and law-enforcement agencies’ ability and capability to maintain fool proof security of the entire country’s nuclear infrastructure and, above all, Pakistan’s export control law of 2004, which thwarted illegitimate nuclear trade.
Pakistan is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and it indigenously constructed its entire nuclear weapons manufacturing infrastructure. The Nuclear Supplier Groups (NSG) denial approach did not obstruct Pakistan’s endeavor to gain mastery in nuclear weapons technology and fabricate appropriate nuclear material for making weapons. The Missile Technology Control Regime also failed to barricade Islamabad’s missile program. Ironically, many nuclear experts deliberately ignore the fact that if a country indigenously built complete nuclear fuel cycle, made weapon grade nuclear fissile material, and successfully conducted nuclear explosions in its testing site, it is very much capable to maintain safety and security apparatus of its nuclear facilities.
Admittedly, Pakistan has been engaged in improving quantitatively and qualitatively its nuclear arsenal. It tested its NASR missile on April 19, 2011. Though the Strategic Plan Division (SPD), the secretariat of the National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan refrained from terming it as a tactical missile, independent security observers labeled it as a tactical nuclear capable missile. At the same time, the American satellites imagery verifies that Pakistan’s Khusab nuclear facility, which is not under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, has been operational. The government of Pakistan also did not deny these reports. These two developments, obviously, confirm that Pakistan’s nuclear program is on upward trajectory. There is a sound reason for this upgradation. India rejected Pakistan’s nuclear restraint regime proposal. In addition, it has been engaged in developing missile defense systems. In short, the absence of an arms control between the belligerent neighbors always results in arsenals improvement.
Pakistan’s economic fragility due to the ongoing War on Terrorism limits its capability to invest adequately in its conventional military modernization. Pakistan’s strategic peer in the region has been colossally investing in its military upgradation. India’s Cold Start Doctrine, declassified in April 2004, had obliged Pakistan to revise its defensive strategy including nuclear posture to dissuade India from taking military action against Pakistan. The revision in nuclear posture certainly necessitates the qualitative and quantitative improvements in the nuclear arsenal. Notably, according to BASIC Trident Commission Discussion Paper 1, Published by British American Security Information Council (BASIC) in November 2011, ‘long-term nuclear force modernization or upgradation programs are underway in all nuclear armed states. Hence, Pakistan is not the only state, which is improving its nuclear arsenal.
The Parliament of Pakistan legislated an act- the Export Control on Goods, Technologies, Material and Equipment Related to Nuclear and Biological Weapons and their Delivery Systems Act- in September 2004, which is on a par with the standards followed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Australia Group, as well as European Union Guidelines. The 2004 Export Control Act, has a ‘catch all’ clause, extending to the entire territory of Pakistan and all citizens whether home or abroad. To ensure consistent implementation of the law, an interagency Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) and an oversight board was established in the ministry of foreign affairs.
To conclude, Pakistan has institutionalized a robust command and control system, which protects its strategic assets against theft, diversion, and accidental or unauthorized use.