Revisiting Pakistan’s Nuclear Safety and Security Measures

United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adoption of several multilateral nuclear security and safety programs, there is actually no effective universal nuclear accident mitigation security system.

Revisiting Pakistan’s Nuclear Safety and Security MeasuresIn the current times of second nuclear age, the protection of people, community and atmosphere from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation must be at the heart of every state that uses nuclear technology either for civil or military purpose. The fear of nuclear accident or terrorist act, whether the cause of it is mishandling or a security breach, the state must strive to provide an overarching structure which is solid, permanent and measurable.

While, Pakistan has been directly involved in many of the global nuclear nonproliferation and security activities, it has been subjected to criticism over nuclear fears ever since it tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Several foreign   experts have voiced needless and unjust concerns about the nuclear program of Pakistan. Criticism without having a substantial evidences adds to the academic and professional dishonesty.

In order to inform the international community and minimize the global fears regarding its nuclear program, Pakistan’s Foreign Office on the occasion of the third International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS) organized by the IAEA in Vienna on 10-14 February 2020, has released a booklet ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Security Regime’ carrying an in-depth analysis of its rigorous nuclear safety mechanisms. This is an important step in promoting Pakistan’s strong measures as a responsible nuclear power and further strengthening its case for entry into Nuclear Suppliers Groups (NSG).

The release of booklet not only shows Pakistan’s confidence in its nuclear security measures but also depicts its willingness to share expertise it has in place with international community. With this Pakistan sets a new trend of information sharing in nuclear domain. Pakistan is confident that several top officials and scholars have acknowledged its nuclear safety schemes worldwide. Pakistan has developed an organized and successful national safety system that is consistent with global standards and regulations.

Its nuclear program and formulated policy are focused on a specific statutory and set of regulations for nuclear material and radioactive substances protection as well as installations, infrastructure and operational facilities. Pakistan’s clean record of accidents shows that its nuclear program is backed up by powerful entities and bodies with relevant agencies, expertise and qualified manpower. Pakistan’s nuclear Center of Excellence and other associated institutes on nuclear security became global drivers for teaching and exchanging of Security solutions in the field of nuclear security.

In 2004, Pakistan implemented export control legislation to prevent diversion of nuclear material, technologies and facilities. For all the staff involved with nuclear programs, it directly controls the Staff Reliability System. The information provided by Foreign Office describes that Pakistan’s nuclear safety regime is based on three pillars i.e., legal and administrative structure, state institutions and bodies, as well as security systems and interventions. In order to strengthen these pillars, the country has adopted National Command Authority Act 2010, which controls large expertise for governing actions of various entities and appropriate legal authorities within this field. Further in last April, Pakistan Nuclear Regulation Authority (PNRA) implemented Regulations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Installations (PAK/925) in order to prevent unauthorized transfer of nuclear materials and reduce sabotage possibility.

The booklet stresses a multi-faceted ‘security’ as core of Pakistan’s nuclear security measures, detailing the country’s nuclear safety infrastructure. A concept of 5Ds – deter, detect, delay, defend and destroy – is followed to respond to these threats. Modern technological solutions such as intrusion detection systems, access control systems, delaying and seal barriers and a central alarm station were deployed by Pakistan. In addition, the response forces have been strengthened by land and maritime response capabilities. Pakistan has increased its safety and security layer of its nuclear installations by inducing Special Response Force (SRF) operated under Strategic Plans Division (SPD) with over 10,000 trained and equipped personnel.

Pakistan has always been a responsible member of the global nuclear watchdog IAEA and it is engaged in several training programs. Pakistan is planning to expand nuclear power generation capacity; therefore, it understands that it has increase the security and safety of installations along with the trust of international institutions that the country is sensible and reliable in nuclear operations.

In February 2018, Pakistan acceded to Code of Conduct on safety and security of radio active sources program of IAEA to help bring key agencies together to enhance the operational procedures of nuclear power plants in a protected, efficient and productive way. Pakistan looks forward in the next months and years to closely cooperate with the IAEA and its Member States in ensuring that nuclear safety continues to receive high focus, appropriate support for the work of the organization, unfailing national security and strong international cooperation.