Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nuclear Scene

A number of events and developments on regional and world nuclear seem we want a review of the situation.IAEA’s report on Iran’s nuclear programme is expected to be released
soon. By the time readers read this piece, the report would have been out. The conclusions of the report are expected; some verified activities and some un verified ones, casting doubts on Iran’s declaration that it was not up to making nuclear weapons. As an appendix Pakistan’s role in Iran’s nuclear activities are highlighted and more embarrassing the nuclear black market network alleged to be operating from Pakistan. Indo – US nuclear deal may not be up for congressional review, as the current session ends in September. The next session would be after a new President is installed. President Bush is expected to push the congressional
approval before the current session winds up. Oppositions to the deal has come from unexpected quarters. President Carter in an article has asked the US Congress to see to it that India undertakes to shun nuclear testing. The agreement reportedly is drafted in a manner that
it allows both the parties – India and the US – to interpret it in diametrically opposite ways. That means India does not commit anything regarding nuclear testing, while the US has the
option of suspending the deal if India resorts to nuclear explosions.

NSG (London Based Nuclear central of some forty nations) has reportedly
approved the deal. However, the US congress may not approve of the confusion regarding nuclear testing. And any emphatic statement in this respect may not be politically acceptable to the Indian government.

Outside South Asia, Pakistan’s nuclear programme has almost turned into a liability for us. Musharaf surrendered to US pressure in the aftermath of 9/11 ,reportedly to save Pakistan’s nuclear assets from a possible American onslaught. Further possible concessions by the new government to the US administration may partly have the same consideration. The new IAEA report implicating Pakistan may be a part of the some old pressure tactics. Any new nuclear challenger Iran, N. Korea, Syria etc. somehow puts Pakistan on the spot – revealing
assistance from Pakistan’s nuclear black market. We need to take stricter institutional measures to see to it that nuclear material or know now is not exported or smuggled from Pakistan. In Pakistan, controls in whatever field, are tight for only those who
are not the members of the exclusive power club and are lax for the blue eyed boys or bosses, although PM’s have been declared security risk and not adequately informed on nuclear subjects.
Musharaf himself asserted that Dr. A.Q. Khan was outside the security controls due to his status and the latter’s control of security apparatus by himself.General Zia’s plane crash, as it is told, involved exploding mangoes, which were somehow smuggled onto the plane due to the some lax controls.

Therefore an institutionalisation and strengthening of controls on nuclear materials and know how is to be the number one priority of the sector including personnel employment and exit policies. Government should consider enhancing the retiring age of some key personnel of nuclear establishment.
Keeping in custody is embarrassing and create bad taste. Employment is a better prison, giving salary to the employee and security to the employer.

Another area which merits careful consideration by the government is nuclear safety. A nuclear safety commission is operating, but seems to be busy with controlling radiological activities in health and welding.
We keep hearing of heroic improvisations and indigenisation made by our able engineers due to lack of supply of required parts in the wake of export bars and controls by western countries .While it is commendable, it sends freezing signals down the spines of risk analysts who ponder over the safety issues. Sometimes back, there were news items regarding health problems in the community living nearby a nuclear mine in D.G. Khan. Reportedly KANNUP, whose designed life has already passed ,is up for enhancement of its
capacity at a site which is already too perilously close to the population of Karachi. Kannup site should be closed down, once the current power crises come to end. In any case, KANNUP’S power supply is not stable due to abrupt breakdowns.

Any environmental impact Assessment activity worth its name would disapprove of any capacity upgradation of the Kannup’s site at paradise point. The cost advantage may not be worth the risk. Therefore public oversight of nuclear safety issues by an adequately powered Nuclear Regulatory Commission and parliamentary committee on the subject are required to be instituted.

We need not be noisy about Indo US nuclear deal. It will not stop because we oppose it. It would fall on its own, should the issue on nuclear testing is not resolved by the postis concerned.

Concluding it does not merit much elaboration to emphasise that without a significant improvement in our governance and political stability, the world look at Pakistan’s nuclear capability to be in wrong hands. Therefore if not for the sake of teeming millions, the elite
should do the needful for its own sake.

1 comment:

  1. The nuclear scene is so unclear a sthe common man does not understand either the concept of deterrence nor the implications and disaster of nuclear conflaguration.God save us all.