A need to address nuclear dangers

A need to address nuclear dangers

It's no secret that nuclear dangers are mounting in Asia. Nuclear weapons arsenals are growing, nuclear power programmes are expanding, and fissile and radioactive materials - which could be used to target innocents anywhere - are used, stored and transported throughout our region, sometimes in insecure conditions.

It's a discomfiting picture, and contrary to what sceptics would have us believe, it's not an exaggerated one.

We should be putting pressure on our political leaders to accept their responsibility to address our concerns before a nuclear catastrophe happens.

Next week, an opportunity exists for them to be pro-active in the face of nuclear dangers as leaders from around the world gather in the Netherlands at the world's third Nuclear Security Summit to discuss and agree on actions that should be taken to reduce nuclear risks across the globe. What are these risks?

Let's travel across the Asian nuclear landscape with our eyes wide open.

First stop: Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state with the world's fastest growing nuclear arsenal and military stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium (Pu).

It is believed that there are sympathisers of extremist groups amongst its military, and a number of terrorist organisations operating from its soil.

The risks of nuclear sabotage and theft at Pakistan's military and civilian sites must not be underestimated.

Heading south to India, the nuclear landscape is marginally better. New Delhi too is in the process of building its credible deterrence and the stockpile of weapons-usable HEU and Pu is growing.

India also has an ambitious nuclear power programme with twenty-one nuclear power reactors already operational, more being built, and also a new reprocessing facility at Kalpakkam.

Physical and material security at the increasing numbers of sites must be of the highest standard, given that threats could emerge from within the country or across the border.

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