NUCLEAR SAFETY CONCERNS
Posted on September 14th, 2009

Saman Malik -The writer is expert on defence and political analysis. He is free lance journalist based in Islamabad.

Foreign media continues to express doubts about security and safety of PakistanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s nuclear material. Fears, whether naƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚¯ve or malafide, are expressed that terrorists may steal such material to fabricate a `dirty bombƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. Professor Shaun Gregory and Arnaud de Borchgrave have claimed that there have already been three attacks on PakistanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s nuclear facilities: one on nuclear-missile-storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, the second on PakistanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Nuclear Air Base at Kamra on December 10, 2007, and the third on Wah Armament Complex on August 20, 2008 (CTC Sentinel, July 2009, Edition, Vol 2, Issue 7). The story was orchestrated in pro-Israel Canadian newspaper National Post (July 18, 2009), the Times of India (August 11, 2009), and aired on Indian channel `Times NowƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ (August 11, 2009).

The truth is that the attack in Sargodha was on PAF staff bus, and the one at Kamra was on a school-childrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s bus. The Wah attack was on laborers of the factory. For one thing, the factory does not produce nuclear armaments.

Earlier Frederick W. Kagan and Michael OƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢Hanlon, also, had predicted that extremists would take over, if rule of law collapses in Pakistan (The New York Times, dated November 18, 2007). He has hinted that the USA has contingency plans to seize PakistanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s nuclear material and stash in some ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”safeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ place like New Mexico.

Pakistan is a party to the UN Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. The steps taken by Pakistan to protect its nuclear materials and installations conform to international standards (two-man rule, indigenously-developed permissive action, etc).The critics mysteriously fail to mention that nuclear controls in India and the USA are not more stringent than PakistanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s. India communicated 25 cases of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”stolen or missingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ uranium to the IAEA. Uranium in varying forms and quantities was recovered from ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”thievesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ by Indian authorities. Nine computers, belonging to IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Defence Research and Development Organisation establishment at Metcalfe House, New Delhi, were stolen.

There have been nuclear lapses even in the USA. A US Air Force bomber flew with live warheads, equivalent to 10 Hiroshima A-bombs, over US air space for several hours. The mistake remained un-noticed for 36 hours (ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Missteps in the bunker,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ The Washington Post, September 23, 2007). Several security breaches occurred at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of the atom bomb. The lapses include: (a) Misplacement of classified computer disks, transmission of information through insecure e-mails, loss or theft of two SIGMA-14 Nuclear Emergency Search Team data (b) Unauthorised copying of complete source code by Dr Wen Ho Lee. (c) Leakage of SIGMA-IS information relating to de-activation of locks (d) Appointment of 35 drug addicts, including Ms Quintana, as scientists in the Lab. She had SIGMA 15 clearance and access to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”all the US underground-nuclear-test data and a high-speed printerƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. Police caught her and her boy friend, another drug addict, along with drugs and data stolen from the lab.

Will the international media look into the state of affairs at home before pointing their finger to other countries?

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