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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More