ISLAMABAD: The Arms Control and Disarmament Centre (ACDC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a panel discussion on “The Myth of India’s Impeccable Nuclear Non-Proliferation Record”.
Various distinguished national and international experts attended the panel discussion. Malik Qasim Mustafa, Director, ACDC-ISSI moderated the event.
In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, said that nuclear theft incidents along with the doctrinal shifts have verified India as an “irresponsible nuclear state”.
Earlier in his introductory remarks, Malik Qasim Mustafa, Director ACDC-ISSI, said that recent incidents of uranium theft in India have raised several concerns especially when India had a history of incidents of nuclear proliferation and theft such as illicit heavy water acquisitions, centrifuge expertise leakage, illicit procurements and diversion of international peaceful cooperation for weapons use, etc. These incidents question the credibility of India’s nuclear regulatory regime; safety and security of its nuclear assets and double standards of the international community for always giving a clean chit to India by granting it waivers and signing nuclear cooperation agreements.
In her briefing, Ms Ghazala Yasmin Jalil, Research Fellow ACDC-ISSI, examined the record of nuclear theft incidents in India spanned over the last 3-4 decades. These incidents raise fears of a nuclear mafia in India and organised crime relating to nuclear materials. With the US and other countries ready to enhance civil nuclear cooperation with India, the safety and security of its nuclear installations is a matter of greater concern and urgency. The insecure Indian facilities and assets could lead to greater onward proliferation or nuclear terrorism, she said.
Ambassador Zamir Akram, Adviser, Strategic Plans Division (SPD), said that these nuclear security and safety lapses indicate a failure on the part of the Indian nuclear establishment to protect its domestic nuclear supply chain. The post-NSG waiver, arrangements between India and the IAEA are extremely opaque and a major contributing factor. Pakistan should make a strong nuclear proliferation case against India’s nuclear support to North Korea, Iraq and Iran.
While discussing the Indian safety and security regime, Dr Naeem Salik, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS), Islamabad, said that the establishment of nuclear safety and security regime is a national responsibility of a state and India is not serious to undertake this responsibility. To make a strong nuclear proliferation case Pakistan should focus on four key aspects: explore the historical record of criminals, identify intended customers, and determine whether material is being stolen from processing plant or criminal stockpile and intention to use domestically or internationally.
Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad, said that the Indian nuclear black market is there but their destabilising effects are debatable. Pakistan should use it for making a strong case against India at the international level because the international community has entirely ignored the Indian military aggression vis-à-vis Pakistan and China in 2019 and 2020, respectively, when it comes to arms transfer and military agreements to India.
Syed Muhammad Ali, Director, Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS), said that technical aspects and strategic ambitions of the Indian nuclear programme should be understood within the broader framework of international geopolitics. He underlined key factors that point towards the irresponsible nuclear behaviour of India like extremist religious ideology, domestic identity politics, the large size of an unguarded nuclear programme, aggressive nuclear posture, irresponsible nuclear safety culture, poor security, nexus with the nuclear black market, exceptional international access and cooperation.
National and international experts together with the ISSI research faculty actively participated in the panel discussion.