Challenges and Importance of Nuclear Security: A Case Study of Pakistan

Master's Thesis, 2012

65 Pages



Executive Summary


Chapter: 1= Importance of Nuclear Security
Nuclear Security: An Inevitable for Human Survival
Risk of Nuclear Terrorism
Inefficient Nuclear Security Measures
Energy Crises and Civil Nuclear Industry
Nuclear Security leads towards Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament

Chapter: 2= Challenges to Pakistan’s Nuclear Security
Political Instability in Country
Lack of Strategic Depth Indian Ill-intention
Pakistan’s Inadequate Measures for Future Nuclear Programme
Risk of Nuclear Terrorism in Pakistan
Loopholes in Pakistan’s Nuclear Security Measures

Chapter: 3= Pakistan’s Nuclear Security Posture
Pakistan’s Nuclear Command and Control Structure
The National Command Authority
The Strategic Plans Division
The Services Strategic Command Forces
The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority
Nuclear Security Action Plan
Analysis of the Pakistan’s Nuclear Command and Control Structure
Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine
Analysis of the Pakistan's Nuclear Doctrine
Policy Recommendations/ Suggestions

Figures and Map

Pakistan’s Nuclear Complex

Figure 3.1: Structure of NCA

Figure 3.2: Structure of SPD

Figure 3.2: Structure of PNRA

Executive Summary

The researcher has tried to look into the issue of the Security of Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets objectively. The day Pakistan has become the nuclear power; it has been under stressful situation. It has to face different threats, from inside as well as from outside. Pakistan, being the sole Muslim nuclear power, has perturbed the sleep of many foreign forces. She is the target of different open and concealed intrigues which are weakening her stance on nuclear issue. Pakistan possesses a full range of activities relating to nuclear weapons. It is capable to produce heavy water, enrich uranium and plutonium and manufacture nuclear weapons. It has also a full developed missile program. No doubt they are great assets and contribute much to buttress the defence of Pakistan. But at the same time, she is in the hot water for committing the dauntless deed of having a nuclear arsenal. However, some un-thoughtful acts of nuclear proliferation and rise of militancy have raised many concerns about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear asset. Unfortunately, the northern areas of Pakistan are the bedrock of Al-Qaeda’s militants. These militants claim of having nuclear material. All these factors are seen as great threat for world peace.Post 9/11 scenario has created an upheaval in our social, cultural, political and economic set-up. The clue of any terror event that takes place anywhere in the world is traced back in Pakistan. Therefore, the world powers express their deep anxiety regarding the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. These fears and anxieties are not baseless. A. Q. Khan Network’s involvement in nuclear proliferation and secondly some of our scientists alleged meeting with Osama-bin-Laden have raised many questions regarding the security of Pakistan’s assets. A gory wave of terrorism has grilled the country. Extremism and sectarianism have distorted the pretty face of Islam and Pakistan. Different terrorist groups have been playing a ruinous game in the name of Jihad. They are hell-bent to disparage the integrity of Pakistan. These are the facts and call for serious and effective steps by the stakeholders to foil all these dirty designs. Any laxity in this matter would be very fatal for the life of Pakistan.America and other world powers have been forcing Pakistan to sign CTBT and NPT. These powers have been urging Pakistan to cap her nuclear programme. India-Israel malicious designs about Pakistan’s nuclear program are an open secret. However, Pakistan is dealing with all these challenges very cautiously and confidently. She has taken strong measures for the security of her nuclear assets. America and other concerned agencies are satisfied about the fool–proof nature of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. It is confessed that there is no fear of any terror attack on Pakistan’s nuclear installations. Command and Control system responsible for the protection of nuclear installation is impenetrable. Nature has gifted Pakistan with a pivotal geographical position in South East Asia. This position is very alluring for America and other regional forces. Secondly, Pakistan’s traditional animosity with India is not letting her to make any compromise on nuclear issue. However, Pakistan is quite capable to protect its nuclear assets against any terror attack.


Understanding the apocalyptic nature of nuclear destructiveness, nuclear security has become a cause of worldwide concern. The importance of the phenomenon needs not be reemphasized in Pakistan’s case. Ever since it first tested its bomb in 1998, Pakistan has officially maintained that it has taken adequate safeguards to guarantee nuclear security. Yet the point is debatable because its nuclear arsenal faces some grave danger of proliferation and terrorism due to the rise of non-state actors worldwide. Being the epicenter of extremism its bomb faces more vulnerability than any other nation’s bomb. Allegedly the factors such as loopholes in command & control system, proliferation episodes, radicalization of society, Pakistani military’s domineering and decisive role in the country’s affairs, and the historic animosities with the neighboring India and the two states refusal to join NPT have led the world to declare South Asia a nuclear flashpoint. Though for Pakistan’s security dilemma, the only answer lies in the development of minimum deterrence, yet it needs to go a long way to ensure the world that its nuclear security is guaranteed and foolproof. Nuclear security is the burning issue in today’s world. The rise of non-state actors in 21 century has jeopardized Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals. Pakistan is the only nuclear power in the Muslim world. The rise of religious extremism in world has shaken the security of Pakistan. Common perception about Pakistan’s nuclear security is that she has good theoretical skeleton, but still it is feared that its nuclear security has certain loopholes. The hypothetical impression that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals and the fissile material used in them may fall into the hands of terrorist or extremists has become a popular subject in the west. In Pakistan, the issue of nuclear security has become a serious matter after the A.Q Khan episode and rise of terrorist activates. Other concern about Pakistan’s nuclear security is because of strategic asymmetric between Pakistan and India. Undoubtedly, Indian’s lust for hegemony is posing genuine threats to Pakistan’s security. Therefore, the stakeholders as well as the people of Pakistan are highly sensitive about its nuclear status. The key point of their discussion is how to build up a shock-proof security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. To them, pre-requisites are to curb the terrorist groups and to have a strict vigilance as there may be no proliferations in future. However, as the nuclear security issue is very serious, some more concrete and comprehensive measures are to be considered as well.

The researcher intends to explore the means and measure which can solidify the nuclear security of Pakistan. Pakistan’s nuclear status has undoubtedly heightened its importance and role in the region. At the same time, however, some challenges have popped up which are threatening the integrity of Pakistan and its nuclear status. These challenges are internal as well as external. Internally, Pakistan is facing threats from extremism and terrorism engineered by Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Terrorist’s activities have delivered a serious blow to the economic and social structure of Pakistan. Pakistan’s involvement in the proliferation of nuclear skill/assets has damaged its credibility. Externally, 9/11 dire event has brought many pains and penalties for us. It has shaken us to our bottom. The designs of America and India are to weaken our nuclear competence. It is propagated frequently that Pakistan’s nuclear assets may fall in the hands of militants. The militants are also strengthening this impression through their terrorist activities.

This critical situation calls for confident and consolidated measures by Pakistan’s political and military leadership. Political stability is the most important of all these measures. It is quite inevitable that all the stake holders must form a uniform policy in all internal and external matters. There should also be a living co-ordination between the rulers and the ruled. The spate of terrorism can be curbed effectively if people are mobilized mentally and morally against the menace of terrorism. The second important measure is to have a fool-proof security measures as there should be no pilferage of nuclear assets in future. Foreign threats are very serious. Pakistan needs to handle them wisely, patiently and bravely. This paper has some other recommendations to improve the nuclear security in Pakistan: Need of comprehensive nuclear doctrine, eliminating the cause of tension between Pakistan and India, De-radicalization in military and political elite, recognition of Pakistan as a nuclear state and to minimize the inside threat and maximize the security measures. Summing up the discussion, the researcher is of the view that safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets is one of the most important challenges for Pakistan. Undoubtedly, nuclear status is crown jewelry for Pakistan. At the same time, the security of nuclear assets is the most crucial challenge for Pakistan. Apart from foreign propaganda, the insurgency in the Northern areas is a grave risk for our security. However, America and the rest of the world confess that there is no real threat to Pakistan’s nuclear assets. It is believed that N.C.A. (National Command authority) and S.P.D. (Strategic Plan Division) set-up are strong enough to foil the dirty designs of terrorists. However, the authorities are to be very keen and cautious about nuclear proliferation and pilferage. The most important thing is the internal peace and stability. Political and economic stability would ensure the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

Chapter 1:
Importance of Nuclear Security

Nuclear Security: An Inevitable for Human Survival

Terror incidents around the world indicate an urgent need to improve the security of nuclear stockpiles and arsenals. To secure the nuclear weapons and material is inevitable for human survival. “Today, the world is not yet on track to succeed in achieving effective security for all the stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear materials.”[1] Nowadays for nuclear weapons, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) materialis stored in hundreds of buildings and bunkers around the world. The dilemma is that no global rule is specified that how much security the material should have. “US Congressional Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, reporting in December 2008, also noted that: There are currently well over 100 nuclear research reactors around the world that use Highly Enriched Uranium for fuel, and many of them lack adequate security.”[2] Globalization and improvement in technology are helping the states to secure their nuclear assets. But serious risks remain the same in all the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and the Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) because of recent incidents near nuclear sites, e.g. theft of fissile materials and cause of proliferation. As a report about USA’s nuclear assets tells:

“In early February 2010, a group of peace activists climbed over the perimeter fence at Kleine-Borgel airbase in Belgium, where U.S. nuclear weapons are reportedly stored. The fence was a simple chain-link fence with no intrusion detectors, and the group was not detected. The group walked out onto the runway, where they spent 40 minutes to an hour, expecting to be arrested. They then walked through a gate that had been left open in a double fence surrounding an area of bunkers, placing protest stickers on the wall of one bunker (not, apparently, a nuclear weapon storage bunker). They then proceeded across a large open area, where they were finally stopped by a single guard, whose weapon appeared to be unloaded—some 90 minutes after they entered the base.”[3]

According to some sources the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and Pakistan are at stake. Political instability, financial problems and increasing influence of extremists made Pakistan’s nuclear chattels vulnerable. “Pakistan, where a small and heavily guarded nuclear stockpile faces immense threats, both from insiders who may be corrupt or sympathetic to terrorists and from large-scale attacks by outsiders.”[4] In case of Russia his hegemonic thinking and disruptive history with Europe made the Russian weapons dangerous. “Russia, which has the world’s largest nuclear stockpiles in the world’s largest number of buildings and bunkers; security measures that have improved dramatically but still include important vulnerabilities and substantial threats, particularly from insiders, given the endemic corruption in Russia.”[5]

Transportation of nuclear weapons and materials, reprocessing Plutonium from spent fuel and assembling of radioactive material are main concerns in nuclear security. These troubles are same in both the developing and the developed countries. After 9\11 nuclear security issue has become vital for global peace. Why nuclear security is inevitable?

There are some reasons which highlight the importance of nuclear security in 21 century

a) Risk of Nuclear Terrorism
b) Inefficient Nuclear Security Measures
c) Energy Crises and Civil Nuclear Industry
d) Nuclear Security leading towards Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament

Risk of Nuclear Terrorism:

Fear about nuclear terrorism is not to be neglected. As President Barack Obama has said, the danger that terrorists could get and use a nuclear bomb remains “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.”[6] Making of nuclear bomb by non state actors is quite difficult task; it needs lot of resources and technical capabilities. On the other hand terrorist can make crude nuclear bomb if they get enough Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). “According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there were more than 400 confirmed cases of illicit trafficking in materials that could be used in nuclear terrorism between 1993 and 2004, and21 that involved material that could be used to produce a nuclear bomb.”[7]

Al-Qaeda and AumShinriky are known as two influential and potential terrorist groups who can get nuclear weapons. Al-Qaeda’s relation with Pakistani Nuclear scientists are reported in 2001-02. “Two Pakistani nuclear scientists (Sultan BashiruddinMahmood& Abdul Majid) reportedly have told investigators that they conducted long discussions about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons with suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden in August in the Afghan capital of Kabul, according to Pakistani officials familiar with the interrogations of the men.”[8] Before al Qaeda, the Japanese terror cult AumShinrikyo also made a rigorous effort to acquire nuclear weapons. So world’s fear about nuclear terrorism is justified. It may occur in anywhere in world. As International Commission on Nuclear non-proliferation and Disarmament reported in 2009.

“Terrorist groups wishing to carry out an attack using a nuclear bomb, as opposed to an attack using a ‘dirty bomb’ or conventional explosives, would face substantial challenges and difficulties, not least in acquiring sufficient fissile material, overcoming the technical challenges of designing and building a device, keeping their activities secret for a lengthy period of time while the bomb was in preparation, and successfully delivering the bomb to target, probably across international borders, but these barriers could likely be overcome. While the risk terrorist dirty bomb is deemed much greater than a full terrorist nuclear explosion.”[9]

Inefficient Nuclear Security Measures:

Inadequate nuclear security measures are real headache for whole world. Lot of incidents and accidents in nuclear reactors has occurred in the world since the evolution of nuclear technology. Many incidents are reported in this century. “In November 2007, just over two years earlier, two teams of armed men attacked the Pelindaba nuclear facility in South Africa, where hundreds of kilograms of weapon-grade HEU are located. One of the teams got through a 10,000-volt security fence, disabled intrusion detectors without detection, and proceeded to the emergency control center. They had set off no alarm until the worker at the emergency control center called for help.”[10] In April 2010 a summit was held in Washington D.C and announced to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. These summits put forward some new nuclear security standards, follow more cooperation on this agenda with Russia and Pakistan, building new partnerships to lock down sensitive materials, and boosting up the efforts to break up black markets, identifying and stopping materials in transit, and use financial tools to upset the hazardous trade in nuclear materials.

Energy Crises and Civil Nuclear Industry:

Increase in oil and gas prices and their impact on climate put nuclear energy back on the agenda in many countries. Expansion in civil nuclear programme is also a big hurdle in way to secure nuclear material. Lack of experts, technical challenges and financial problems are big concerns to beef up the civil nuclear technology. The chance of theft of radioactive material and attack on civil nuclear installations may put these projects in shamble in future. Allaround the world, over 130 power reactors are currently planned and over 250 more are proposed. “Nevertheless, some nuclear plants may actually be built in countries that are not as stable in governance terms as one would like, and overall, it seems clear that a world with a much larger civilian nuclear industry lies just over the horizon. With nuclear expertise and enrichment and re-processing technologies distributed in many more countries, proliferation and nuclear security risks are likely to multiply.”[11] In next 20 years Pakistan has plan to get 8800Mev watt of electricity from nuclear fuel, while a lot of concerns are present in country. Iran has the same kind of problem.

Nuclear Security leads towards Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament:

Nuclear security is important not only to prevent proliferation and nuclear terrorism but it may lead toward global disarmament. Nuclear security is neither a Western nor merely a technical issue. It also is not only connected to examine nuclear terrorism alone. It is a critical issue of concerning to the entire global nuclear order. “However, what is less widely acknowledged is that neither strengthened non-proliferation nor nuclear disarmament, especially disarmament to very low numbers of weapons and perhaps even to zero, is likely to be possible without the additional confidence that would come with more effective nuclear security. This is because nuclear security provides an additional and necessary underpinning to both.”[12] Protecting nuclear weapons and materials required to fabricate confidence on non-proliferation regime.


[1] Matthew Bunn, “Securing the Bomb 2010: Securing all Nuclear Material in Four Years,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, April 2010, p. v. (accessed May 25, 2010).

[2] Dr. Ian Kearns, “Keep the lid on: Nuclear Security and the Washington Summit,” British American Security Information Council: April 2010 (accessed June 3, 2010)

[3] Matthew Bunn, op. cit.,p. 4.

[4] Ibid, p. vi

[5] Ibid, p. vi

[6] Ibid, p. I.

[7] Noam Herold, “Nuclear Terrorism: A 21 Century Threat,” (accessed June 5, 2010)

[8] 2 Nuclear Experts Briefed Bin Laden, The Washington Post, New York: December 12, 2001. June 5, 2010)

[9] Dr. Ian Kearns, op. cit, pg. 7.

[10] Matthew Bunn, Op. cit,p. 4

[11] Dr. Ian Kearns, op. cit, p. 9.

[12] Ibid, p. 10.

Excerpt out of 65 pages


Challenges and Importance of Nuclear Security: A Case Study of Pakistan
Quaid I Azam University  (Department of Defense and Strategic Studies)
Seminar on Cureent Issues
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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The author is currently pursuing his Masters of Philosophy in Pakistan studies at National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid I Azam University Islamabad. Besides he holds an MSc Degree in Defense and Strategic Studies. He has also worked for Islamabad Policy Research Institute.
challenges, importance, nuclear, security, case, study, pakistan
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Ahmad Sabat (Author), 2012, Challenges and Importance of Nuclear Security: A Case Study of Pakistan, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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