The Greg Miller's report published in many newspapers talks about intense surveillance of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal (Washington Post September 2013). There is little information or truth in such reports. Some media reports have published satellite images of annex to Khushab reactor from stage of foundation laying to its camouflage. The fear that our nuclear installations may be at risk is expressed but no information on how to further safeguard them is given.

Some analysts imagine that a state itself may give its nuclear material or arsenal to the terrorists which is a farfetched notion although when one turns to instances such as the Dr Qadeer episode etc, there is a lot to be concerned.

The USA is quite efficient in identifying conventional sources of terrorism in USA or abroad through forensic evidence. Why can’t it identify source of nuclear attack by proxy? Even if nuclear material is stolen, making an A-bomb will remain difficult; putting together a nuclear weapon requires complex planning and coordination and such an effort could not remain secret. Before six months of the 9/11 attack there were clear and strong indicators pointing to the possibility of the attack, but the US agencies were able to prevent it.

The fact is that the mistrust is a pressure to neutralise our nuclear program. They want Pakistan to agree, at least, to put US Permissive Action Links (PALs) on our warheads. Isotopic fingerprints of a bomb could help trace fissile material back to the reactors, enrichment facilities, or uranium mines from which it was derived. Post-explosion material, even if miniscule, can provide information about its sources and processes. Composition of a weapon gives clues to reach the reactor that produced the weapon.

Nuclear forensics is easier than conventional ones. What our government needs to focus on now is to make sure that the US has no way of approaching or handling our nuclear reactors as the distrust has increased intensely between both the countries.


Rawalpindi, September 5.