Conference: Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons termed key to peace

Pakistan’s focus has been on inculcating a culture of safety: expert.

News Desk January 21, 2012

Preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons is key to the security of nations and to the peace of the world, said a Korean expert on Friday, according to a CISS press release.

“The nuclear security summit in Washington and upcoming in Seoul will address the urgent global issue of nuclear terrorism,” said Choong-hee Hahn while speaking at a roundtable discussion “Aspects of Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards with special reference to Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul”, organised by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) in collaboration with South Korean embassy here on Thursday.

Hahn, who is spokesperson for the Seoul nuclear security summit 2012, said that international measures are required to control the illicit trafficking of nuclear material and misuse of nuclear material and facilities.

The Seoul summit is an opportunity for global attention and focus on this critical security issue. It aims to accentuate the global reach of proliferation threats, the broadly shared obligation to respond, the steps taken to reduce nuclear dangers, and the essential role of the Security Council in addressing growing and pressing nuclear threats.

The roundtable was presided over by former ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, Executive Director (ED) Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS). In his remarks, he said that the security and safety of nuclear assets are dependent on the stability of the region.

He said that Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons capability was the result of its sense of strategic insecurity and vulnerability, and any discussion of nuclear security must also look at the geopolitical environment, apart from the purely technical and operational approach.

The speakers and analysts at the roundtable discussed nuclear safety security and safeguards, prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons and illegal use of nuclear material. The roundtable covered both Pakistani and international perspectives.

Safeguards, safety and security are important in their own rights and must be pursued independent of each other, said Ambassador Munawar Saeed Bhatti.

Bhatti said that Pakistan’s focus has been on inculcating a culture of safety and security at all levels. For this, Pakistan has a well-established programme for the application of nuclear technology for power generation, health, agriculture and industry, he said.

He said that Pakistan has a four-decade long experience of safe operation of a nuclear power plant. Pakistan, a fossil fuel deficient country, would continue to rely on nuclear energy and enhance its share in the national energy mix in a safe, secure and safeguards, Bhatti said.

Prof Zafar Nawaz Jaspal of Quaid-i-Azam University said that practicality is missing from the discourse on nuclear security threat, which is a global issue. On the issue of negative propaganda about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, he said that Pakistani security observers need to constitute a counter narrative to share the realistic facts about their nuclear programme, which is essential for the country’s defence.

Threat from non-nuclear states is much bigger than nuclear states, he said. Non-nuclear state using nuclear for peaceful purposes and their isotopes are at a greater threat because of lack of nuclear security culture, Jaspal added.

CISS ED Naqvi concluded by saying that the focus on nuclear non-proliferation has been shifted to safety and security after 9/11. Pakistan, he said, is signatory to two international nuclear safeguards: Convention on Nuclear Safety and Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The country’s record should be emulated and should be seen as credit worthy, he said, and the world should have a collective approach to nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2012.

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