The third Nuclear Security Summit is taking place at The Hague. This summit is the third of its kind. The nuclear security summit process was born out of President Obama Prague speech of 2009 which envisaged a total of four summits, and under this format, the last one will be held in 2016, again in Washington DC.
Besides outlining a vision for achieving global nuclear disarmament in his 2009 speech, President Obama had proposed action regarding prevention of access of terrorists to nuclear weapons and securing of vulnerable fissile material. Accordingly, these summits are focused around issues such as the global nuclear security architecture, the role of the IAEA in securing unsafe nuclear materials, combating illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, nuclear forensics and other nuclear safety measures. The security summit initiative thus represents a greater focus on nuclear security, since this issue has not been a major part of the existing global nuclear regime.
Interestingly, this turn towards nuclear security implicitly sidelines the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, which has been the US bugbear all these years. The important difference is that on non-proliferation, the onus is on the states, while nuclear security entails international cooperation in which states are not targets but partners.
This re-orientation of the nuclear approach is welcome to countries like Pakistan, which have found themselves on the wrong side of the global nuclear regime for no fault of theirs. The trend in nuclear order is state-centric nuclear security as national responsibility. Consequently, the nuclear security summit process also provides non-NPT states such as Pakistan, India and Israel a platform to engage in productive discussion on important matters relating to nuclear safety and security. This serves to integrate these states in the debate.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, it has been actively participating in these nuclear security summits. During the Washington summit of 2010 Pakistan offered nuclear fuel cycle services, under IAEA safeguards, to countries which might be interested. In the 2012 Seoul summit, Pakistan also proposed its readiness to provide training on nuclear safety and security to other states and to make these training facilities part of a regional or international hub. Moreover, Pakistan maintained that it qualified to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other export control regimes on a non-discriminatory basis.
In regard to its own nuclear security, Pakistan has established a robust nuclear safety and security regime compatible with international standards and best practices. In this endeavor, Pakistan has accomplished the following four steps:
- Established a well-defined command and control system comprising the National Command Authority, the Strategic Plans Division, and the Strategic Force Commands that exercises control over all aspects of policy, procurement, operations and nuclear security
- Created a rigorous regulatory regime covering all matters related to nuclear safety and security. In 2004 a statutory body, the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), was created to oversee all safety and security systems and mechanisms.
- Put in place a comprehensive export control regime with laws at par with the standards followed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Australia group.
- Committed itself to international cooperation, consistent with national policies and interests as well as its international obligations
Other nuclear security related activities include establishment of centres of excellence for training, which conduct courses including physical protection and personnel reliability, meticulous inspection and monitoring of nuclear power plants, periodic revisiting of safety parameters, emergency preparedness and response, operators training, nuclear security action plan (NSAP) radiation response mechanisms, periodic revision of national export control list by the Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) and combating illicit trafficking of nuclear material through border control mechanisms. On this last point, Pakistan is linked to the IAEA illicit trafficking database.
It needs to be mentioned here that post-Fukushima lessons regarding safety and security of nuclear power plants have also been incorporated by Pakistan for its present and future nuclear energy programmes.
Against this background, Pakistan is at the Hague Summit and is expected to reiterate its two offers: services in the nuclear fuel cycle area under IAEA auspices and training on nuclear security aspects in Pakistan. It is well-known that Pakistan has an excellent record and rich experience of handling the nuclear fuel cycle. Its capability in this regard is recognized by the international community.
The 2014 Hague summit also includes on the sidelines the third high-level meeting of CEOs from the world nuclear industry. Pakistan has in the past two summits engaged with these high level representatives for possible collaboration in technical research and development related to safety and security. There is also interaction with P-5 states, EU, China and Russia in meetings prior to the summit. Such contacts are important to reinforce the message that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state willing to engage with the international community on issues of global concerns such as those discussed in the summit.
It should be kept in mind that it is in Pakistan national interest to have safe and secure nuclear energy for efficient and beneficial utilization that advances our economic agenda. It has relevance for the projected trajectory of national growth requirements, as well as for addressing the increasingly competitive environment regarding trade and commerce.
The Nuclear Security Summit forum can also be realizing the nuclear power generation goals set by the government.