Nuclear safety

nasscom5The dismissal by NASCOM chief and nuclear and missile scientist Dr Samar Mubarikm and of any fears about the safety of our atomic arsenal comes none too soon, for the US media has lurched to that angle of the stories appearing about Osama Bin Laden’s murder on May 2 in Abbottabad. This has come from two developments: the first Senator John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan, and his expression of concern; and then the commissioning of a plutonium reactor at Khushab, which, according to US media, makes Pakistan capable of adding 20 nuclear weapons a year. Dr Mubarikmand’s statement contains nothing new, and merely covers the old ground of Pakistan having ensured the safety of its arsenal by an effective command and control system. It should put paid to the fears that the West claims it has, of militants taking control of the nuclear arsenal and using it against them. This ignores not only Pakistan’s repeated assurances that its nuclear deterrent is too safe to pass into the wrong hands.

Though the West has indulged in an orgy of speculation ever since Pakistan went nuclear in 1998, there is no truth to these idle speculations. The West refuses to contemplate the possibility that a Third World country like Pakistan, and a Muslim country to boot, could develop a nuclear weapon, leave alone control it. The West also has no answer to the indubitable fact that, apart from its right to develop indigenously whatever technology it wished, including for nuclear weapons, India has not only developed nuclear weapons, but immediately used them to threaten Pakistan. If Pakistan had not tested its nuclear deterrent at that juncture, the consequences for peace would have been extremely damaging. The Pakistani nuclear deterrent, instead of being any kind of threat, is a guardian against Indian adventurism.

It is for this reason that Pakistan finds the USA’s preferential treatment of India not just galling and appalling. The refusal by the USA to give Pakistan a civilian nuclear accord has left Pakistan unaided in the throes of an energy crisis. India has been rewarded for proliferating, probably because the USA looks to it to protect its interests against China. The report about the Khushab reactor merely rehashes old material about alleged Pakistani proliferation. Pakistan must not accept those charges. – nation