Pakistan accords utmost importance to its nuclear safety and security and considers it a national responsibility. The nuclear security demands the cautiousness, constant vigilance, preparedness and continuous improvement against the evolving threats. Thus, the utmost importance is being given to the safety and security of nuclear weapons. However, it still becomes a center of critics by some international entities whenever there is any kind of distress in the regional strategic affairs. In order to keep up with the emerging challenges and threats, the nuclear security regime of Pakistan continually reviews its policy as a national obligation. Over the time, a robust nuclear structure is formed which strengthens the nuclear security regime.
The former NSA of US, John Bolton, in his opinion editorial in Washington Post opined that the inability of Pakistan and its armed forces would result in the abdication of state and thus the nuclear weapons, which is really absurd and should contemptuously be dismissed. It is here to remind him, that it’s the same Pakistan army which has fought successfully against the terrorists and state-sponsored terrorism on its land-thus against all the internal and external threats. The defeat of US in Afghanistan doesn’t mean Taliban or any other such group will take over Pakistan. Pakistan army, keeping in view the threats from India, Afghanistan and internal threats, has carefully designed its security policy.
Bolton has also shown some concerns regarding the command and control of nuclear weapons and some of its part falling into the hands of terrorists. The security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals has always been admired by the US top officials as well, since decades and they have said it consistently that the nuclear assets of Pakistan are secure and the training and physical protection are sufficient and improving. Pakistan has developed an effective command and control system, which is at par with the international standards and guidelines. There is an extensive legislative and regulatory framework, comprising of numerous institutions underneath, and regulates the security of radioactive substances and nuclear materials, and its associated activities.
Pakistan has also ratified to Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), Convention on Nuclear Security (CNS) and UN Resolution 1540. Pakistan is proactively fulfilling its obligations under these international instruments. Moreover, Pakistan is also an active member of various IAEA committees, commissions and other related forums. Thus Pakistan excessively contributes and adheres to the global safety and security of nuclear weapons. Pakistan is responsible nuclear weapon state, and is fully capable of responding to the entire spectrum of challenges, whenever encountered with. So, the former NSA John Bolton’s illogical argument about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists is ruled out completely. Even the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is acknowledged by a credible international agency-IAEA.
In Afghanistan’s evolving scenario, US and its other allies should be thankful to Pakistan for the role it has played in the evacuation process. Such illogical comments on a state that is and has always been there in the past against the instability in Afghanistan should be gracefully acknowledged for its efforts. As far as the nuclear safety and security is concerned, that is utterly in the safe hands, and these bizarre voices should pay heed to the Indian side, where Uranium is on ‘sale’, which shows the effective black market in India, of Uranium sale and purchase. India, has failed to maintain the nuclear security due to poor regulatory and law enforcement structure. The theft of nuclear material has to be essentially reported to the IAEA’s incident and trafficking database, for improving the nuclear security standards. But in this case, India might have not reported, as no concern by the international community is shown in this regard, which is actually alarming.
Nuclear safety and security is a national responsibility, hence it should religiously be adhered by all nuclear weapon states for maintaining international security. According to the 2020 Nuclear Index Report, India stands 20 out of 22 in maintaining the security of nuclear material, whereas Pakistan has been has been ranked in the report as the most improved country in maintaining the security of nuclear materials. Thus, Pakistan is committed to maintaining its nuclear security, in accordance with global security norms. The world should, therefore, focus on India’s case for securing nuclear materials from reaching the non-state actors, or other potential states in building up their nuclear weapons.
*Amber Afreen Abid, Research Associate, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad.