THE issue of security of nuclear facilities is a very sensitive one, and countries need to constantly upgrade their protocols to ensure fool-proof measures are in place to protect sites. There is reassuring news where Pakistan’s atomic facilities are concerned, as a recent American study has rated this country’s protocols favourably. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which conducted the study, Pakistan has improved the most in nuclear security and in fact overall, this country is ahead of India in the rankings. The study says that Pakistan “improved its overall score by adopting new on-site protection and cybersecurity regulations, improving insider threat protection measures and more”. This analysis from an independent concern should put to rest any irresponsible conjecture that questions the safety protocols of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Moreover, on a visit to Karachi in 2018, then IAEA head Yukiya Amano had said that the metropolis’s nuclear plants were “heavily protected” and that Pakistan was “committed to nuclear safety”.

While the US body has praised Pakistan’s progress on nuclear security, it has also sounded the alarm regarding the “decline in the rate of improvement to national regulatory structures and the global nuclear security architecture”. Basically, the institute is worried that geopolitical friction and the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic was weakening global cooperation in the realm of nuclear security. Perhaps this should serve as a moment to ponder the future of atomic power, both for energy and weapons, for the global community. The risks associated with nuclear energy are far too great, compared to its advantages, and the world should think about shifting to safer, more environment-friendly alternatives. Japan’s Fukushima disaster of 2011 serves as a reminder of what can go wrong at even the best protected sites should a natural disaster strike. Moreover, when some states insist on being exclusive members of the nuclear club, this causes others — with legitimate security concerns — to proliferate to protect themselves. Perhaps in the best interest of mankind, it would be better to rethink nuclear power.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2020

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