Pak has taken steps to secure N-weapons: Khar
New York: Facing international pressure over safety of its nuclear weapons, Pakistan has said it has taken steps to augment their security as it shares concerns that "non-state actors or terrorists" may acquire and use them.
Pakistan shares concerns that "non-state actors or terrorists may acquire and potentially use nuclear materials and cause serious economic, political and psychological consequences", Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told a UN meet on nuclear security that policies and practices here.
"We have demonstrated through our political commitment and actions the importance that we attach to nuclear security. We have engaged constructively inter alia with the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Nuclear Security Summit processes," she said.
In an apparent reaction to the India-US civil nuclear deal, Khar contended that recent changes have "dealt major blows" to the non-proliferation regime and sought similar cooperation from the world`s atomic powers.
Without naming India or referring to the India-US nuclear deal, she said: "Based on commercial and political considerations, have eroded the sanctity of long-standing norms and legal instruments that underpin the non-proliferation regime".
"The global non-proliferation architecture has witnessed major transformations in recent years. We have seen trends and policies that have dealt major blows to the non-proliferation regime," she told the high-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security in New York yesterday.
The US and other western countries fear Pakistan`s nuclear weapons programme could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India. Pakistan, Khar said, believes in an "equitable, non-discriminatory and criteria-based approach to advance the universally shared goals of non-proliferation and promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy".
Pakistan hopes that "considerations of nuclear safety and nuclear security would facilitate, not hinder, the pursuit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy for advancing the development agenda", she added.
The US has so far rejected Pakistan`s calls for a civil nuclear deal on the lines of the one concluded with India, largely due to concerns emanating from the clandestine proliferation ring run by nuclear scientist AQ Khan.
The two sides began preliminary talks on the issue last year but US officials have said that it will be many years before a deal can be finalised.
Despite concerns about nuclear energy in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident in Japan, atomic power plants are crucial for Pakistan’s plans to increase energy generation to boost economy and socio-economic development, she said.
"Safe and sustainable nuclear energy is essential to advance our development agenda," she remarked. Pakistan plans to increase its share of nuclear power in its electricity mix from the current level of 750 MW to 8,800 MWe by 2030.
"The events at Fukushima nuclear plants, however, brought into focus justifiable public anxiety over nuclear safety measures and standards," Khar said.
Such concerns are "neither unjustified nor unprecedented" but the world community can respond to such challenges individually and collectively, she added.
Pakistan has already begun a comprehensive safety review of its existing nuclear plants in areas like site studies, safety systems, emergency power systems and emergency preparedness.
The unanimous approval by the IAEA Board of ‘C-3 and C-4 Safeguards Agreement’ for two new atomic plants reflected the international recognition of Pakistan’s expertise in safe and secure operation of nuclear plants, Khar contended.
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