Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state | By Shaikh Moazam Khan


Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state

NUCLEAR security requires utmost vigilance and preparation at all levels without any complacency. Pakistan accords utmost importance to nuclear security and safety; that is why Islamabad 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 it.

Pakistan is located at strategic point of the world. Its location compelled extra-regional powers to engage with the authorities in Islamabad to discuss global as well as regional issues. The pivot pf Pakistan cannot be ignored owing to the prevailing strategic environment of the region. It is making all efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region. It is playing major role in regional integration. Even its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Unlike other countries, Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons in the wake of looming Indian threat to territorial integrity.

Pakistan initiated its nuclear programme in the wake of Indian nuclear tests in 1974 (Operation Smiling Buddha). Pakistan was driven by security concerns and desire to maintain strategic balance in the region. Pakistan faces existential threat from Nuclear-India that seeks regional hegemony. Both countries have fought three major wars and some skirmishes for unresolved territorial disputes. Some Indian political and military leaders have openly threatened to split Pakistan into three parts. The very existence of Indian Cold Start Doctrine validates Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns.

To deter existential threats, Pakistan adheres to Full Spectrum Deterrence Policy which involves the deployment of a range of nuclear delivery systems, including aircrafts, land-based ballistic missiles and sea-based systems. Pakistan refuses to adopt no first use policy and believes that nuclear is a weapon of deterrence rather than a weapon of war. Over the years, Pakistan has taken remarkable steps to improve the security of its nuclear weapons and material. Physical protection of nuclear sites and weapons is a priority with the deployment of highly trained and equipped security personnel. Furthermore, nuclear weapons are placed in dismantled form at geographically displaced locations.

A robust command and control system known as Strategic Plan Division (SPD) has been established to ensure the safe and secure management of nuclear weapons with clear international protocols. Pakistan has implemented strict export controls to prevent spread of sensitive technology and material in line with its commitments under international non-proliferation regimes. The country has established a comprehensive personnel reliability program to ensure that those with access to nuclear weapons and material are trustworthy and undergo continuous security checks. Pakistan has concluded comprehensive safeguard agreements with the IAEA to ensure the peaceful use of its nuclear program, including giving access to IAEA inspectors to visit nuclear facilities.

IAEA’s recent report concluded that coordination between Pakistan and the Agency has been “exceptional” as Pakistan extended utmost cooperation to resolve emerging issues of safeguards implementation of its facilities. The US State Department also expressed its confidence in Pakistan’s ability to secure its nuclear arsenal, clearing President Joe Biden’s irresponsible statement in which he termed Pakistan “one of the most dangerous nations in the world with nuclear weapons without cohesion”. Such statements are politically motivated and lack empirical evidence.

However, the world must be worried about safety of Indian nuclear program and its delivery systems as accidental firing of Indian BrahMos missile into Pakistani territory on 09 March 2022 that raises serious concerns about command and control system in place in India. In essence, it is India which has a poor safety record in nuclear technology usage. There have been six incidents since 1987 related to nuclear plants and not all nuclear reactors are under IAEA safeguards. According to the Times of India, the suspects who were apprehended dealing in Uranium are part of a national gang involved in illegal trade. Other than recent two incidents, in 2016 also police had seized almost 9kg (19.8 pounds) of depleted Uranium in Maharashtra.

It is time for international community to wake up and play an meaningful role in order to avert any nuclear misadventure. Both Pakistan and India are having nuclear capabilities. Pakistan, on the one hand, is acting like responsible and mature nuclear state. However, India on the other side, is behaving like warmonger and spoiler state. In India, a few incidents have been reported in recent past in which enriched uranium was confiscated in open marker. The person wanted to sell the enriched uranium in the market. That was a major nuclear security breach. For instance, how an ordinary person can get enriched uranium. Unfortunately, international nuclear watchdogs remained silent on the matter. This is the best time for international community to come up with a robust plan in order to prevent the use of illegal nuclear trade.

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.

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 behaviour. 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 sensitized by global nuclear establishment regarding the importance of securing nuclear and nuclear-related material for national, regional and international security. Moreover, it is India that needs to be sensitized by global nuclear establishment regarding the importance of securing nuclear and nuclear-related material for national, regional and international security.

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