NAWAIWAQT GROUP
 
 
 
Improved nuclear safety
 
January 11, 2014
 
 

Generally, the effectiveness of the security apparatus of the Pakistan’s nuclear programme has received mixed reviews from all over. Some have painted nightmare scenarios, such as a takeover by extremists, and left the rest to the readers’ imagination. The US has expressed its confidence in the security apparatus in place for nuclear weapons, while calling for improvements simultaneously. And, when some take liberty to publish preposterous claims such as Pakistanis transferring nuclear materials in ordinary cars though regular traffic, it only adds to the nervousness of the international community. The root of anxiety can also be linked to the lack of knowledge about Pakistan’s atomic sites despite severe satellite surveillance by the US.
The NTI Nuclear Materials Index developed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Economist Intelligence Unit has praised Pakistan for “most improved” security. It has ranked Pakistan at 22 out of 25 nations present in the list, to be followed by India on 23 with regards to atomic-material safety. Despite gaining 6 points, Pakistan scored 19 out of 100 in the category of “risk environment”. It is a rating of “prospects for political instability over the next two years, effective governance, levels of corruption among public officials, and the presence of groups interested in and capable of illicitly acquiring nuclear materials.”
The Strategic Plans Division (SPD) is responsible for the management and administration of the country's tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stock. Its Director-General (DG) has traditionally been a Pakistan Army officer. In 2012, Pakistan released details regarding its physical protection requirements for atomic sites after the 2012 index went public. This information has translated into increased scores in the reports. Pakistan’s position has been the same throughout ongoing speculation over the sophistication of the employed security methods. It maintains that its nuclear stockpiles face no threat. The location of the sites remains unknown. The staff involved with the programmes undergoes intensive scrutiny, whereby political and religious leanings, behavioral changes, and all other relevant affiliations are observed in order to ensure safety. 
However, the lack of faith the rest of world still may express time and again over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear material is understandable. But the concerned can be put in two categories. The first is for purely political and strategic reasons. Not everyone is happy with the idea of a nuclear Pakistan, and since disarmament is unachievable at this point, raising questions and adding pressure on the state makes sense, even if their own assessment fail to point out any credible threat. The second category comprises of those who are concerned due to the internal situation of the country. The widespread activities of religious extremists, and the state’s ineffective response, have given them reason to believe that the nightmare may become a reality. The most important thing that the country can do to establish credibility is by curtailing the insurgency within its territory.

 
 
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