New York: Pakistan, which is on track to become the world`s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal state by the end of the decade, must be stopped from building up nuke weapons in the wake of fears of “continued nuclear proliferation”, a former senior International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official has warned.
“The world`s five original nuclear weapons countries have all suspended production of fissile materials for new weapons and are negotiating cuts in their nuclear arsenals. But one nuclear-armed nation is heading in the opposite direction. Pakistan is steadily building more nuclear weapons, adding production capacity to produce plutonium and enrich uranium, and building new missiles to deliver nuclear warheads,” Olli Heinonen wrote in a newspaper.
“The nuclear risks in Pakistan are three-fold: its non-proliferation record is poor, there are concerns about the security of sensitive nuclear materials, and there is no sign of a slowdown in its nuclear weapons drive. A global response needs to be calibrated to address all three of these potential threats,” he added.
He noted that an International Panel of Fissile Materials report said that Pakistan now has 70 to 90 nuclear warheads- more than its archrival India- which puts Pakistan on track to command the world`s fourth-largest nuclear weapons arsenal by the end of the decade.
He said that the evidence suggests that Pakistan is trying to develop a second-strike nuclear capability, and it has already tested cruise and other missiles that can carry strategic warheads from land or even from submarines.
Also, North Korea and Pakistan also “continue to partner each other such as in matters of missile and uranium enrichment technologies,” said Heinonen, Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
“With fears of continued nuclear proliferation and fueled by complicated regional dynamics and on-going domestic instability, it is imperative for the world to make greater efforts to persuade and pressure Pakistan to halt its nuclear buildup,” he added.
Heinonen argued that not providing sufficient attention and expanding the effort to place Pakistan`s nuclear build-up as a priority issue may “risk a nuclear proliferation crisis of a significant scale.”
“Another reason why the world needs to focus on ensuring that Pakistan`s nuclear material, particular at the bulk handling facilities, remains under proper safeguards is because Pakistan is not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT,” he pointed out.
Heinonen explained that the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide comprehensive safeguards is limited in this case, which, in the longer term, “raises a further challenge of creating effective multinational mechanisms that exercise oversight over countries that remain outside the NPT and not just those countries that voluntarily operate within the system.”