by Asia Maqsood 3 March 2023
Due to growing great power competition, which is giving rise to new alignments and realignments, the early part of the twenty-first century has proven to be an exceptionally unstable period for strategic stability at the global level. Due to its strategic alliances with powerful international players, India is one of the largest winners in the fight between world powers. As a result, these alliances are strengthening India’s conventional and military power. The peace and security situation both internationally and in South Asia have been significantly impacted by these changes.
Pakistan initiated its nuclear program in the wake of Indian nuclear tests in 1974 (Operation Smiling Buddha). Pakistan was driver 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 minor skirmishes for unresolved territorial disputes.
Some Indian political and military leaders have openly threatened to split Pakistan into three parts – threatening its territorial sovereignty. 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 weapons of deterrence rather than weapons 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 in at geographically displaced locations.
A robust command and control system – Strategic Plan Division – has been established to ensure the safe and secure management of nuclear weapons with clear protocols.
Pakistan has implemented strict export controls to prevent spread of sensitive technology & 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 materials 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. Pakistan has following facilities under IAEA safeguards.
IAEA’s recent report (IAEA-CN-184/77) concluded that coordination between Pakistan and the Agency has been “exceptional” as Pakistan extended utmost cooperation to resolve emerging issues of safeguards implementations 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 imperial evidence.
However, the world must be worried about safety of Indian nuclear program and its delivery systems as recent 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 6 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.