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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.