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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid