News / Asia

Pakistan Uses Multi-Pronged Approach to Keep Nuclear Assets from Terrorist Threats

Multimedia

Audio
Sean Maroney

As the two-day nuclear summit ends Tuesday in Washington, foreign leaders are focusing on how to keep terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials.

Since Pakistan detonated its first nuclear device in 1998, parts of the international community have voiced concern over whether the country can adequately protect its nuclear assets from the wide range of terrorist groups believed to reside within its borders.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani specifically addressed this issue in front of leaders from nearly 50 countries attending Washington's nuclear summit.

He said that as a nuclear weapon state, Pakistan attaches the highest importance to the security of nuclear materials and facilities.  For this purpose, he said Pakistan has put in place multi-layered mechanisms and processes.

Retired Pakistani lieutenant general Talat Masood, an expert on his country's atomic program and policy, tells VOA that these mechanisms include Pakistan working with the international community to ensure the protection of its nuclear assets.

He also praises Pakistani officials for going beyond military measures for protection by creating a parliamentary committee to closely watch nuclear policy and its implementation.

"They brought in good legislation and good export controls, which were lacking in the past," he said.

Analysts say these controls exist largely to prevent another A.Q. Khan incident from taking place.

Abdul Qadeer Khan is the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Up until 2009, he spent five years under house arrest for selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Pakistan denies any prior knowledge of the transfer, but Khan remains a national hero.

Masood says Pakistan utilizes a verification process to analyze the background and training of those involved in the nuclear program.

"What Pakistan has done is it realizes that you cannot have anyone who is in any way unreliable in the nuclear sector," he added.  "So what they call 'the reliability factor' acquires huge importance."

He says psychologists, military personnel and civilian agents are part of this process to make sure workers do not have foreign ties or are susceptible to Pakistan's religious extremists or terrorist groups.

But Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a Pakistani physicist, says that due to the highly secretive nature of his country's nuclear program, he takes little comfort in descriptions of its security measures.

"Yes, we have been told that these mechanisms have been put into place, but we absolutely have no means to know if it is indeed true," said Nayyar.

Nayyar, who is a well-known advocate of nuclear disarmament here in Pakistan, says he does appreciate that U.S. officials say they believe his country's nuclear materials are adequately protected.

But he tells VOA that the memory of the Pakistani Taliban's takeover early last year of portions of the country's northwest is still too fresh in his mind to completely alleviate fears that nuclear materials may fall in the wrong hands.

"If some forces like the Taliban can go around and conquer a large part of the country, we are very scared it could happen again," added Nayyar.  "And if this extends to an area where there are either installations or storages for nuclear material or nuclear weapons, then we certainly would be in trouble."

Taliban militants advanced within 100 kilometers of the capital Islamabad before Pakistani forces turned them back.  This led to concern in the international community about the security of Pakistan's nuclear materials.  Since then however, the military has calmed international fears by targeting Taliban militants in their strongholds along the Afghan border.

International agencies estimate Pakistan has anywhere from 70 to 90 nuclear warheads, although Nayyar says this number could be as high as 120.  

Despite recent U.S. and Russian pledges to lower their number of nuclear weapons, analysts say they believe Pakistan will increase its arsenal in an effort to keep it on par with its rival and fellow nuclear power India.  Both South Asian countries have refused to sign the nuclear International Non-Proliferation Treaty.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs