NCA concerned over nuclearisation of Indian Ocean region

Endorses National Space Programme-2047 and Nuclear Power Programme for socio-economic prosperity and growth


Our Correspondent December 21, 2017
Express News screen grab of NCA meeting held in Islamabad on Thursday.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Thursday expressed full confidence in the command and control system and security measures in place to ensure comprehensive stewardship and security of strategic assets and material.

The statement from the National Command Authority (NCA), the central body controlling the nuclear arsenal, came three days after the United States, in its new national security strategy, urged Pakistan to demonstrate that “it’s a responsible steward” of nuclear assets.

Although the NCA, which met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, did not refer to the US strategy, the statement appears to be aimed at dispelling concerns about the security and safety of the country’s nuclear programme.

The high-level huddle was attended by the federal ministers for interior and defence as well as the three services chiefs, the directors general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Strategic Plans Division (SPD), foreign affairs secretary and other senior officials.

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A statement issued after the meeting said the NCA took a detailed review of the nuclear security regime and expressed full confidence in the command and control system and security measures in place to ensure comprehensive stewardship and security of strategic assets and material.

It re-affirmed that, as a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan would continue to contribute meaningfully towards the global efforts to improve nuclear security and non-proliferation measures.

The NCA was briefed comprehensively on the strategic environment. It took stock of regional security and in this regard, noted with concern certain destabilising actions in Pakistan’s neighbourhood which undermine the objective of maintaining strategic stability in South Asia. These include the massive arms build-up in the conventional domain, nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean region and plans for the development and deployment of ballistic missile defence systems.

While expressing full confidence in Pakistan’s capability to address any form of aggression, the NCA reiterated its policy of developing and maintaining full-spectrum deterrence, in line with the policy of credible minimum deterrence and avoidance of an arms race.

The NCA congratulated the scientists and engineers on their contributions to strengthening national defence capabilities. It appreciated the technological sophistication demonstrated during the tests of the Babur III submarine-launched cruise missile and Ababeel missile system, which have ushered a new era in technological sophistication of Pakistan’s strategic capabilities.

It appreciated the high standard of training and operational readiness of the strategic forces to meet all kinds of threats. The NCA asserted that Pakistan desired peaceful co-existence in the region and would endeavour to work with its neighbours to ensure strategic stability in South Asia.

The NCA noted with satisfaction the implementation of national comprehensive export control measures, which are in line with international regimes. It reiterated that Pakistan had the requisite credentials to become part of various non-proliferation regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for which it seeks the adoption of an approach based of non-discriminatory criteria.

The authority was briefed on the National Space Programme-2047 and Nuclear Power Programme for peaceful uses of nuclear technology to meet growing energy needs. It endorsed both programmes as they are essential for future national socio-economic prosperity and growth.

The NCA particularly noted the potential of the space programme in almost all current and emerging civilian sectors, ensuring resource generation and optimisation. The role of nuclear applications in health, agriculture, medicine and industry was deeply appreciated. The NCA reiterated Pakistan’s interest in expanding international cooperation in these areas and playing a positive role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as a provider of expertise and services in peaceful nuclear application.

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