Safety of nuclear installations

Ali Sukhanver

PAKISTAN is as much conscious about the safety and security of its nuclear workers as it is conscious of its nuclear installations. The Prime Minister of Pakistan is the Chairman of The National Command Authority which is solely responsible for all decisions regarding nuclear affairs including policy, procurement, employment and security of nuclear installations. The Strategic Planning Division helps out the National Command Authority in completion of programmes relevant to the provision of technical solutions, intelligence capabilities. It also helps the National Command Authority in dealing with the issues like non-proliferation, terrorism, accidents and weapons of mass destruction.
An integrated intelligence system is always very much watchful and alert in co-ordination with a specially trained Special Response Force to ensure the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. And above all there is Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority commonly known as PNRA to look after all affairs regarding Pakistan’s nuclear programme. It is the result of all these precautionary measures that Pakistan has never faced any serious nuclear-mishap since after the beginning of its nuclear programme.
According to a report Fifty-seven accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and about 60% of all nuclear-related accidents have occurred in US. On the other hand India has also been a very unsafe and insecure country regarding the safety and security of its nuclear programme. It has yet faced more than six very fatal kind of nuclear accidents; the loss crossing US$ 910m. When we talk of nuclear safety and security, it does not include the safety and security of nuclear installations only; it includes the safety and security of the nuclear scientists, engineers, technicians and other workers also. Every country has to be very much concerned about the safety and security of its nuclear staff. Besides providing them physical safety and security, a special vigilance is also put on them because the nuclear scientists are always a very favourite target of the secret agencies belonging to the hostile countries. India has the worst-ever record in this context. According to a data provided by govt of India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), between 2009 and 2013, 11 nuclear scientists had unnatural deaths. While 8 of them died in a blast or by hanging or drowning in the sea, 3 died under mysterious circumstances, two allegedly committed suicide while other died in a road accident. Apart from these 11, there were 15 more nuclear scientists who lost their lives mysteriously.
On Oct 10, 2015 an Indian writer Vandita penned down an article with the title ‘26 Indian Nuclear Scientists Die Mysteriously. Why Is The Country Quiet?’ The article said, ‘On June 8, 2009, L. Mahalingam, a 47-year-old senior scientific officer at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karwar, Karnataka, went on a morning walk and never returned. Five days later, his decomposed body was found from the Kali River. Mahalingam had access to some of the country’s most sensitive nuclear information. On December 30, 2009 two young researchers, Umang Singh and Partha Pratim Bag, were burnt to death in a mysterious fire in the modular lab of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s radiation and photochemistry department. There was nothing inflammable in lab.
In Oct 2013, KK Joshi and Abhish Shivam, engineers on India’s first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant, were found dead on railway tracks in Vishakhapatnam.’ God knows better who was behind all these deaths; if asked from Mr. Modi he would certainly say Pakistan, but astonishingly India seems to be fine with these deaths by classifying them as unexplained killings. In spite of all these horrible facts and figures, India remains a blue-eyed boy of US in all conflicting matters of the South-Asian region. The US is trying its best to make India the member of Nuclear Supplier Group. This all is astonishingly beyond belief.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Multan.

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