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Pakistan’s nuclear assets well protected: Indian official


New Delhi : Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were well protected through the dispersal of various components and chances that terrorists would get their hands on one were remote, an Indian official said Thursday.

Pakistan has not maintained its atomic assets at one place and components of nuclear weapons in that country are dispersed, making it impossible for terrorists to obtain the arsenal, according to Joint Secretary S.K. Gupta, who is currently in the National Security Council (NSC) of India.

NSC, headed by the national security advisor to the prime minister, is the apex body looking into the political, economic, energy and strategic security concerns of India.

Gupta was speaking on “Pakistan’s Nuclear programme” – a lecture organised by the Indian Pugwash Society at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analyses here.

“Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are so well protected. It is not easy for a person to enter (nuclear complexes),” Gupta said.

He said Pakistan has dispersed its nuclear complexes at different places. “They are being watched, they are under surveillance every time,” he said.

The official said Pakistan’s nuclear programme was essentially under the army of that country and “the Pakistan army is well trained and they cannot take chances”.

They have a well-planned structure created for managing nuclear assets, he said.

“The total number of structure groups is eight. Their roles are established, their locations are established.”

Asked if keeping the components of nuclear weapons at a distance from each other would be a disadvantage in case of an emergency, Gupta said Pakistan had proven through drills its ability to assemble and deploy the arsenal in just three hours.

“It is a matter of time for Pakistan to assemble nuclear devices, missiles at a short notice of time. Earlier they would take six hours but now they take only three hours from storage to deployment,” he said.

The remarks from the Indian official come days after it was revealed that Pakistan had doubled its nuclear weapons’ inventory in the past decade stockpile to over 100, causing worries in the global community.

Gupta said he was speaking on the basis of inputs and imagery India had acquired independently.

“Over the years we have got our own technical inputs. We never relied on the US (for such inputs),” he said.

There have been concerns that Islamist militant groups, including the Al Qaeda, have been attempting to steal nuclear material from Pakistan’s reactor and recruit scientists to build a “dirty bomb”.

But Gupta ruled it out saying an insider may try to do so. “That possibility cannot be ruled out but that is also remote. They (nuclear assets) are well protected by codes. Anyway, it is not even going to act as a dirty bomb.”

Gupta, however, said that the Pakistan’s nuclear programme was essentially an extension of Chinese as Beijing has been helping Islamabad to build atomic weapons.

“Pakistan’s nuclear programme is not independent. In each and every field they are getting Chinese assistance,” he said, adding the country was also diverting foreign for financial backing of nuclear reactors.

“Diversion (of foreign aid) is definitely there. The financial backing also comes from countries especially from Saudi Arabia,” he said.