SYED MUHAMMAD ALI US expert David Albrights latest book, Peddling Peril warns that theft of nuclear material by terrorists poses a serious risk to international peace and security. In order to cope with this challenge there is a need for international cooperation and relocation, where necessary, of nuclear arms storages and watchful care of nuclear technology sources that are spread in well over 40 countries. At their 2002 summit, G-8 leaders committed to spend $20 billion over a decade to secure the weapons of mass destruction in the world. But that effort appears to have lost its way and only $3.5 billion have been spent, said Robert Einhorn, co-author of a CSIS report and former assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation According to the International Atomic Energy Agencys Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB), more than 250 incidents of unauthorised possession and related criminal activities, theft or loss of nuclear or other radioactive materials, and unauthorised disposal of radioactive materials had been reported to the UN till 2008. With 20 of the 28 Indian states ablaze with Naxalites insurgency across the length and breadth of the nuclear-armed India, the Maharashtra police arrested three people for stealing around 5kg of uranium from Mumbai last December. Last November, according to daily Indian Express, an incident of tritium leak took place at the Kaiga Nuclear Plant in Karnatakas north Kannada district. It left 55 of its employees with radiation poisoning after they drank water from a water cooler in the operation area. Till the last reports, they were still under treatment. Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, is used in thermo-nuclear weapons. Coming to Europe one finds that in Georgia, 79.5 grams of 89 percent-enriched uranium was seized in February 2006. The US Department of Energys Intelligence office Chief, Rolf Mowatt Larssen, testified before the US Congress in April 2008: Beyond some basics, we do not know what a terrorist nuclear plot might look like. It is unfortunate that Albrights book, despite the hype that it has received, is not devoid of technical inaccuracies and reflects either a personal bias or a motivated agenda of maligning Pakistans nuclear programme. He has expressed the concern that the terrorists are more likely to use an implosion device as compared to a gun-type nuclear weapon. Most nuclear design experts are aware that implosion type nuclear weapon design is extremely sophisticated and requires complete mastery over more than dozen different high-tech and diverse technologies such as theoretical physics, chemical engineering, diagnostics testing, solid-state physics, metallurgy, radioisotopes, geology, enrichment and reprocessing techniques, electrical and mechanical engineering, high-speed electronics, computers, advanced explosives design, machining and manufacturing facilities. And then, only highly-trained and professional manpower consisting of hundreds of scientists and thousands of technicians working over many years can put together a system, which has been mastered by nine out of 192 UN member states has been in the past seven decades. When even Iraq and Libya despite massive investment could not produce nuclear weapons, makes it extremely improbable for a non-state actor to have the resources to put together a nuclear weapon. Although terrorism continues to be a major challenge to the stability of this region, its capability should be viewed from an objective and realistic perspective. In this age of Google Earth, independent media and remote sensing satellites, no country can hide its nuclear infrastructure. It is unlikely that the required infrastructure could be hidden by groups like Al-Qaeda in the caves of Afghanistan or the deserts of Yemen. Writers who continue to talk about the possibility of proliferation by Pakistan need to realise that with the employment of strict legal, physical, financial and personnel-based control mechanism that is enviable for even the US Department of Energy, it is simply not likely. The complex and multi-layered safety, security and reliability protocol based systems, which Pakistan has evolved, is being considered worthy of emulation by senior officials of US Department of Energy, the authority charged with the custodial control and maintenance of nuclear weapons. It is ironic that despite President Barack Obamas desire for a Nuclear Zero and end of cold war, the fact remains that, the US continues to maintain tons of weapon-grade fissile material stockpiles and most massive and deadly nuclear weapon arsenal in various parts of the world, including Turkey, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, certain parts of Asia and US aircraft carriers afloat in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. According to International Panel on fissile Materials (IPFM), the US declared: As of May 2009, the United States had 2,126 operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads, which meets the limits set by the [2002 Moscow] Treaty for 2012. In addition, it currently has an estimated 500 non-strategic weapons and more than 6,500 inactive weapons in reserve or awaiting dismantlement, bringing the total US inventory to about 9400 warheads. But what will really be shocking for most readers is the news that during the past six decades, only the US and Russia have lost at least 92 nuclear weapons in 15 different parts of the world, which still remain unaccounted for. With a safety record like this and availability of a massive nuclear arsenal clearly disproportionate to the current global security architecture and availability of sensitive and dual-use technology and materials in over 40 countries, to raise alarm over the possibility of terrorists choosing only Pakistani nuclear weapons for attacks, is not a convincing argument. In the forthcoming much talked-about Nuclear Security Summit and Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Pakistan must present a confident and responsible posture, consistent with its commitment to international non-proliferation, its resolve to fight terrorism and desire to pursue international cooperation for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy to meet its economic, industrial and domestic requirements. Most importantly, it must express a clear determination not to be browbeaten by those states, whose own nuclear safety record needs major improvement, and which aspire to regional or global hegemony. The writer is associated with the Strategic and Nuclear Studies Department, National Defence University, Islamabad.