‘In an attempt to keep Pakistan’s nuclear programme safe, certain employees who could not clear the Personnel Reliability Programme (PRB) were dismissed from the programme, reported asiaone, an online news portal.
The PRB started in mid-2003 and aimed to screen employees working on the highly sensitive programme. Periodic checks are carried out for family background, education, political affiliation and religious inclinations.
Retired Brigadier Tahir Raza Naqvi, who works for Strategic Plans Division, the administering body for the nuclear programme, spoke at the ‘Future Security Outlook of South Asia: Trends and Challenges’ seminar, organised by an Islamabad-based think tank.
“We filtered out people having negative tendencies that could have affected national security,” Brig Naqvi said. Those sacked were the “incorrigible” ones he said and quickly added, “Our checks are very solid.”
He made no mention of the number of employees dismissed or why they failed to clear the screening, he explained that fears pertaining to nuclear safety and security in Pakistan arise from the inside.
In 2003, when the proliferation scandal surfaced, at least 12 people with links to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan were removed from the programme. These dismissals took place before the PRB was put in place.
Security concerns have been recognised by the West and Professor Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University said Pakistan was in need for a robust strategic deterrent and the need is much recognised by the West.
He added that concerns also remained about the increase in fissile material production and development of missiles.
“Safety and security is paramount to manage nuclear enterprise,” he said, adding that safety and security was “not a destination, but a journey … and the first line against nuclear terrorism”.
He said Pakistan should keep its nuclear weapons, material and nuclear knowledge under strict government control.