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Rehman fears dirty bomb blast in India amid uranium controversy

ISLAMABAD   –  Former interior minister and Chairman Institute of Research and Reforms Rehman Malik on Monday warned that there could be a dirty bomb blast in India amid uranium controversy. 

The Pakistan People’s Party leader urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take serious notice of continuous nuclear proliferation by India and probe into the incidents on urgent basis. 

Addressing a news conference, he suggested the IAEA chief to call an emergency meeting inviting western countries cautioning about this new trend by India to bring uranium as one of the business commodities, being traded openly by private dealers.  

In his letter to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General IAEA, he said: “I would like to draw your kind attention to the combined seizure of 7.1kg of highly enriched uranium from two citizens of India namely Jigar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal Husain Choudhary, a scrap dealer, on 6 May 2021 in Mumbai.” He said that it was not the first time that such a highly radioactive substance had been seized by police in recent years but in 2016; Indian police seized almost 9kg (19.8 lbs) of depleted uranium in the Thane area of Maharashtra.  He said, it was, thus, evident that India had been found involved in illicit nuclear proliferation activities and uranium theft, as there was a history of unauthorised possession of radioactive material in India.” 

Making the letter public at the news conference, Rehman Malik said the present incident and many other incidents which had not yet been reported must be an eye-opener for the IAEA, as it had further endangered nuclear security, especially when it was in the hands of an irresponsible extremist government in India.  

He stressed that timely warning and necessary legal action would enable to stop Indian nuclear products from landing in the hands of terrorists. He urged that world must stop this new wave and mode of terrorism of these dirty bombs which would be too dangerous for the world and would frustrate all modern measures against terrorism. 

Rehman Malik wrote in his letter that theft of uranium and its subsequent sale to unauthorised customers was not only dangerous for India, its neighbours but for the whole world.   

Malik said that seizure of enriched uranium from unauthorised persons in India had raised eyebrows in the world vis-à-vis the safety measures in place in India.  “Although India is not a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty, yet it was able to secure a waiver from IAEA owing to its supposedly falsely reported ‘excellent record in nuclear security”, he added. 

For the proposed probe into sale of uranium in India, Rehman Malik in his letter proposed some important points to save the world from the dirty bomb in the hands of terrorists.  

Those points included a detailed investigation by IAEA because the present BJP government was controlled by extremists and could not be trusted, all previous incidents of nuclear proliferation inside India needed to be made public as India always muted such incidents, the IAEA may call an emergency meeting inviting western countries cautioning about this new trend by India to bring uranium as one of the business commodities, being traded openly by private dealers.  

“As a politician, I am sorry to note the double standards of the world community when it comes to Pakistan.  There has not been any reaction yet either from the UN, IAEA, or the international community including the US over the incidents of seizure of uranium from private citizens of India, I request to refer the case of nuclear proliferation to FATF under your signature as it is too serious to be ignored and allowed to endanger the world as it is too serious issue and a bigger dirty bomb is bigger threat than actual terrorism and money laundering,” he added.  

The PPP leader said it was high time that the safety measures adopted by India to safeguard the nuclear material against proliferation were reviewed by IAEA and the waiver granted to it was withdrawn forthwith, and in the meantime, a total freeze on the operation of these nuclear plants may be imposed. 

Rehman Malik explained that the seizure of such a quantity of nuclear material from unauthorised persons spoke itself about the so-called claims of fool-proof safety of the Indian nuclear programme.  

“I am a close observer and familiar with nuclear-associated issues as I have remained a member of the National Control and command Authority of Pakistan being Interior Minister of Pakistan for five years” he said in the letter. 

He mentioned that in one of the international programmes of IAEA on nuclear proliferation in 2011 in Islamabad, wherein he was chief guest, he had warned the world about the Indian nuclear faulty security system having inadequate safety and security which was a matter of record.  

He stressed that the nuclear programme in India was in the hands of irresponsible and inexperienced civilians and the extremist government which was being governed by RSS who had their unethical motives in contrast to Pakistan’s outstanding nuclear safety and security record duly verified by the international monitoring watchdog. 

Rehman Malik said that India had been a customer of the nuclear black market and it had become now business which meant the supply of death by providing nuclear material for dirty bombs. He emphasised that unless India strictly regulated nuclear material, it would be considered complicit in the proliferation of nuclear material. He said, “Under Article 39 of the UN Charter, it constitutes a direct threat to international peace and security, if a country is found to be noncompliant with its safeguards. Such loose state control shows that the India has to go a long way to become a responsible nuclear power and made member of NSG.”  

In his letter to IAEA chief, Rehman Malik said that track record of India showed that it had been a customer in the nuclear black market and proliferation of nuclear material could not happen without the active connivance of state operators hence India had proved itself as an irresponsible state.  

He said that India had to prove its credibility by enhancing the internal administration and security of its nuclear plants and also needed to bring stringent legislation by enhancing punishment on nuclear proliferation. The private dealing with uranium had to be prohibited otherwise every dirty bomb in the hands of terrorists and every non-state actor would be worse than Osama Bin Laden and Daesh, he said.

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