By: Hamid Waheed
A hype has been created over a period of time regarding the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
More especially, countries like Indian and US and their media have been quite vocal in the recent past voicing concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program. In some bizarre incidents, ironically, the nuclear safeguards of both these nations themselves have been in regular breach of standards desirable, not long ago.A sensitive list of US nuclear sites was mistakenly posted on internet recently. Then, in another case that shocked the whole world, a B-52 bomber that was mistakenly armed with six nuclear warheads flew for more than three hours across several US states.
As far as accidents regarding the Indian nukes are concerned, a few days back a fire left two people dead at India’s main nuclear research laboratory, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai. Times of India reported on November 30, 2009 about radiation contamination at the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka. The locals residing in surrounding area suffered damages.
Yet another case, was of the sudden missing of a top nuclear scientist L. Mahalingam, having access to sensitive information, is also a fairly recent happening. He was later found dead. Then, there was news about two to three tons of heavy water having leaked out of an atomic reactor in western India on August 5, 1981. An examination of the safety record in India’s nuclear facilities reveals poor practices and routine accidents, ranging from leaks of oil to complete loss of power in areactor causing all safety systems to be disabled. Such series ofblunders, places the United States and India in the list of world’smost dangerous nuclear powers.
Admiral Mike Mullen stated in press conference at Pentagon “We all recognize, obviously, the worst downside with respect to Pakistan is that those nuclear weapons come under the control of terrorists.” Now the wind has changed, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believes that “the nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has, I believe, is secure. I think the government and the military have taken adequate steps to protect that,”. In same context, Indian Army Chief Gen VK Singh affirms, “I don’t think, there is any reason to say things are not secure. Things are secure.” Pakistan has no such history. Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system remains one of the most sophisticated and secure in the world. However, those with vested interests continue projecting dismal picture about Pakistan.
Samuel Butler, author of “Way of All Flesh”, a writer with great insight in human psychology rightly stated, ”Opinions have vested interests, just as men have.”
(Hamid Waheed has done his masters in International Relations and MBA his area of focus is on South Asia, Central Asia and Pakistan. He is a keen follower of war on terror and has written extensively on subject of his choice).