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Archive for category NUCLEAR SAFETY

How safe are Pakistan’s nuclear assets:Israel thwarted By Shahid R. Siddiqi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How safe are Pakistan’s nuclear assets

Israel Thwarted

 

 

By Shahid R. Siddiqi

Archive

Sunday, 14 Feb, 2010 | 01:00 AM PST |

INDIA’S explosion of its nuclear device in 1974 drew only a customary “show of concern” from the western powers. But Pakistan’s nuclear programme, initiated in response to the Indian acquisition of nuclear weapons, evoked immediate and “serious concern” from the same quarters. Ever since, Pakistan has been under immense pressure to scrap its programm while the Indians remain uncensored.

That western attitude was discriminatory can also be seen by the religious colour it gave to Pakistan’s bomb by calling it an ‘Islamic bomb’. One has never heard of the Israeli bomb being called a ‘Jewish Bomb’, or the Indian bomb a ‘Hindu Bomb’, or the American and British bomb a ‘Christian Bomb’ or the Soviet bomb a ‘Communist’ (or an ‘Atheist) Bomb’. The West simply used Pakistan’s bomb to make Islam synonymous with aggression and make its nuclear programme a legitimate target, knowing full well that it merely served a defensive purpose and was not even remotely associated with Islam.

With India going nuclear soon after playing a crucial role in dismembering Pakistan in 1971 and enjoying an overwhelming conventional military superiority over Pakistan in the ratio of 4:1, a resource strapped Pakistan was pushed to the wall. Left with no other choice but to develop a nuclear deterrent to ward off future Indian threats, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared: “Pakistanis will eat grass but make a nuclear bomb”. And sure enough, they did it. Soon, however, both he and the nuclear programme were to become non-grata. Amid intense pressure, sanctions and vilification campaign, Henry Kissinger personally delivered to a defiant Bhutto the American threat: “give up your nuclear programme or else we will make a horrible example of you’.

And a horrible example was made of Bhutto for his defiance. But he had enabled Pakistan to become the 7th nuclear power in the world. This served Pakistan well. India was kept at bay despite temptations for military adventurism. Although there has never been real peace in South Asia, at least there has been no war since 1971.

Ignoring its security perspective, Pakistan’s western ‘friends’ refused to admit it to their exclusive nuclear club, though expediency made them ignore its ‘crime’ when it suited their purpose. But driven by identical geo-strategic interests in their respective regions and seeing Pakistan as an obstacle to their designs, Israel and India missed no opportunity to malign or subvert Pakistan’s programme.

Due to its defiance of Indian diktat, Pakistan is for India an obstruction in its quest for domination of South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. Israel’s apprehension of Pakistan’s military prowess is rooted in the strength Pakistan indirectly provides to Arab states with whom Israel has remained in a state of conflict. Conscious that several Arab states look up to Pakistan for military support in the event of threat to their security from Israel, it is unsettling for Israel to see a nuclear armed Pakistan.

Israel can also not overlook the fact that Pakistan’s military is a match to its own. The PAF pilots surprised Israeli Air Force, when flying mostly Russian aircraft they shot down several relatively superior Israeli aircraft in air combat in the 1973 Arab-Israel war, shattering the invincibility myth of Israeli pilots who believed themselves to be too superior in skill and technology. The Pakistanis happened to be assigned to Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi air forces on training missions when the war broke out and, unknown to the Israelis then, they incognito undertook combat missions.

After successfully destroying Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, Israelis planned a similar attack on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities at Kahuta in collusion with India in the 1980s. Using satellite pictures and intelligence information, Israel reportedly built a full-scale mock-up of Kahuta facility in the Negev Desert where pilots of F-16 and F-15 squadrons practised mock attacks.

According to ‘The Asian Age’, journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark stated in their book ‘Deception: Pakistan, the US and the Global Weapons Conspiracy’, that Israeli Air Force was to launch an air attack on Kahuta in mid-1980s from Jamnagar airfield in Gujarat (India). The book claims that “in March 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed off (on) the Israeli-led operation bringing India, Pakistan and Israel to within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear conflagration”.

Another report claims that Israel also planned an air strike directly out of Israel. After midway and midair refueling, Israeli warplanes planned to shoot down a commercial airline’s flight over Indian Ocean that flew into Islamabad early morning, fly in a tight formation to appear as one large aircraft on radar screens preventing detection, use the drowned airliner’s call sign to enter Islamabad’s air space, knock out Kahuta and fly out to Jammu to refuel and exit.

According to reliable reports in mid-1980s this mission was actually launched one night. But the Israelis were in for a big surprise. They discovered that Pakistan Air Force had already sounded an alert and had taken to the skies in anticipation of this attack. The mission had to be hurriedly aborted.

Pakistan reminded the Israelis that Pakistan was no Iraq and that PAF was no Iraqi Air Force. Pakistan is reported to have conveyed that an attack on Kahuta would force Pakistan to lay waste to Dimona, Israel’s nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert. India was also warned that Islamabad would attack Trombay if Kahuta facilities were hit.

The above quoted book claims that “Prime Minister Indira Gandhi eventually aborted the operation despite protests from military planners in New Delhi and Jerusalem.”

McNair’s paper #41 published by USAF Air University (India Thwarts Israeli Destruction of Pakistan’s “Islamic Bomb”) also confirmed this plan. It said, “Israeli interest in destroying Pakistan’s Kahuta reactor to scuttle the “Islamic bomb” was blocked by India’s refusal to grant landing and refueling rights to Israeli warplanes in 1982.” Clearly India wanted to see Kahuta gone but did not want to face retaliation at the hands of the PAF. Israel, on its part wanted this to be a joint Indo-Israeli strike to avoid being solely held responsible.

The Reagan administration also hesitated to support the plan because Pakistan’s distraction at that juncture would have hurt American interests in Afghanistan, when Pakistan was steering the Afghan resistance against the Soviets.

Although plans to hit Kahuta were shelved, the diatribe against Pakistan’s nuclear programme continued unabated. Israel used its control over the American political establishment and western media to create hysteria. India worked extensively to promote paranoia, branding Pakistan’s programme as unsafe, insecure and a threat to peace. The fact is otherwise. It is technically sounder, safer and more secure than that of India and has ensured absence of war in the region.

The US invasion of Afghanistan provided another opening for Indo-Israeli nexus to target Pakistan’s strategic assets. This time the strategy was to present Pakistan as an unstable state, incapable of defending itself against religious extremist insurgents, creating the spectre of Islamabad and its nuclear assets falling in their hands. Suggestions are being floated that Pakistan being at risk of succumbing to extremists, its nuclear assets should be disabled, seized or forcibly taken out by the US. Alternatively, an international agency should take them over for safe keeping.

 

 

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Pakistan Ranks above India in Nuclear Material Security List: India Nuclear Weapons Can Fall into Terrorists Hands

Pakistan ranks above India in nuclear material security list

 
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

January 10, 2014 – Updated 355 PKT 
From Web Edition

 
 

 

 

 

 

ISLAMABAD: India has been ranked below Pakistan and China in the list of countries with weak nuclear material security in the world. This has been revealed by a US-based think-tank in its index, the 2014 Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Nuclear Materials Security.

 

India has been ranked 23rd out of 25 countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials. According to credible media reports, India received 41 out of 100 points, which is an improvement by one point from the 2012 score.

 

For comparison, China received 64 points and has been ranked at the 20th spot, while Pakistan with 46 points stands at the 22nd place.

 

India and these countries are included in the list of 25 countries with one kilogram or more of these materials, which also includes all other nuclear-armed states.

 

The Nuclear Threat Initiative claimed this improvement reflects India’s first contribution to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund. “Overall, however, India’s score remains low.” This is due to a number of factors including weak regulations that are written as guidance rather than as requirements; increasing quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials for both civilian and military use and gaps in its regulatory structure such as lack of an independent regulatory agency.

 

External risk factors, such as high levels of corruption, which undermine the confidence in implementation or enforcement of security measures and also increase the risk that officials, may contribute (even unwittingly) to the theft of nuclear material are also among the factors, it added.

 

Both India and China improved their scores since 2012 by one point by contributing to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund, which supports the implementation of nuclear security activities, the report said.India scored higher than China on the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 related to nuclear security issues.

 

China, however, scored higher in a number of areas, including the existence of an independent regulatory agency; having invited a peer review of its nuclear security arrangements; and having strong regulations for control and accounting of materials.

 

Pakistan received 46 out of 100 possible points compared to India’s 41, the report said, adding that both the countries improved their scores since 2012. Pakistan improved its score by publishing new regulations for the physical protection of nuclear facilities.

 

India scored higher than Pakistan on international legal commitments because India has adopted all the relevant treaties whereas Pakistan has not.

 

Pakistan, however, scored higher in a number of areas, including the existence of an independent regulatory agency; having invited peer review of its nuclear security arrangements and having security and other personnel with access to nuclear materials subjected to additional vetting.

 

In addition, Pakistan has an operational Centre of Excellence, whereas the foundation stone for India’s COE, the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, was laid on January 3, 2014, it said.

 

In its report, the NTI said India was briefed on the index, along with other countries. “Unfortunately, India did not use the opportunity to review and confirm the data, a process through which governments can choose to provide responses to one, some, or all questions depending on their sensitivities and help ensure the accuracy of the data,” it said.

 

“Out of the 25 countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials, 17 (more than two-thirds) responded to the data review and confirmation request (including nuclear-weapons states such as France, the UK, and the US),” the report said.

 

The NTI recommended that India’s nuclear materials security conditions could be improved by strengthening its laws and regulations for mitigating the insider threat, for the control and accounting of nuclear materials, and for the physical security of materials during transport.

 

“India’s existing regulations could be strengthened by taking a more prescriptive approach to security measures, as most countries already do, rather than simply recommending security measures,” it said.

 

India’s nuclear materials security conditions could also be improved by completing the establishment of an independent nuclear regulatory agency, in fulfillment of a commitment made at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, it said.

 

“Because the potential for theft increases with higher quantities of materials, the NTI Index report recommends that states commit to no net increases of weapons-usable materials and to using existing materials before producing new materials. India’s continuing production of weapons-usable nuclear materials means that it is increasing, not decreasing, its stocks,” it said.

 

India and Nuclear Terrorism

Nuclear Terrorism in India? 

 

 

 Most of us don’t spend a lot of time focusing on terrorism in India.  You might not have even heard of the Indian Mujahideen or “IM”.  As you might have guessed from the name, it’s an Islamist extremist outfit bent on teaching those Hindus a thing or two.  According to The Times of India, one of IM’s leaders was intent on detonating a nuclear weapon in Surat.

The prospect of terror organisations getting their hands on a nuclear device has long concerned both security agencies and thriller writers. Now, it seems Indian Mujahideen India chief Ahmad Zarar Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal too was thinking along similar lines. Bhatkal recently told interrogators that he was planning to explode a nuclear bomb in Surat, according to sources.

 

Bhatkal was arrested on August 27 in Pokhra, Nepal and has been constantly questioned by the NIA, Intelligence Bureau and police of several states. TOI has accessed the interrogation report.

Bhatkal told the interrogators that he had asked his Pakistan-based boss, Riyaz Bhatkal, over phone whether the latter could arrange a small “nuclear bomb”. According to him, Riyaz responded, “Anything can be arranged in Pakistan”.

“Riyaz told me that attacks can be done with nuclear bombs. I requested him to look for one nuclear bomb for Surat,” Yasin told the officials.

 

“Riyaz told me Muslims would also die in that (nuclear bomb blast), to which I said that we would paste posters in mosques asking every Muslim to quietly evacuate their families from the city,” Yasin said, according to the report.

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