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Toby Dalton is the Deputy Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has made some very sensible comments, carried by Global Security Newswire, on Pakistan and nuclear weapons security, the most sensible that I have come across anywhere since that asshole was knocked out in Pakistan

“Fear-mongering” by various news outlets in recent months about the prospects for Pakistani-based terrorists to acquire or attack nuclear assets plays into the government’s longstanding paranoia about foreign nations plotting to seize the nation’s atomic arsenal, said Toby Dalton, deputy director of the Nuclear Policy Program for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Islamabad “fears that the outside world is going to get Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and that fear I think is likely to drive Pakistan for a time to want to disperse its nuclear weapons and to have higher alert postures for fear of some sort of disarming strike,” Dalton said during a panel discussion in Washington on the South Asian nuclear arms race…

Notice that these comments reflect precisely the same point that I had made in a very recent blog post. What really matters is the saliency that Pakistan places upon deterrence, because there exists a trade-off between deterrence and security/safety.

There is actually way more stuff in this pretty important article. I couldn’t help but notice this point that Dalton makes

Dalton also questioned the security of neighboring India’s nuclear arsenal.
“We don’t know how India goes about nuclear security. It’s not particularly transparent. There hasn’t been a lot of interaction with the outside world,” he said, though noting that India did take part in the 2011 Global Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

The expert noted that as India moves to expand its civilian atomic energy, the risks of some nuclear material or technology being seized by extremists in mid shipment could also grow.

“It’s clear that there is a terrorism problem in India too,” Dalton said, adding, “It’s quite possible that there is just as much possibility of some sort of nuclear security, nuclear terrorism incident in India as there is in Pakistan.”…

That point is of course disputed, no less so than in India itself. But say it’s true. That means that the US-India deal, combined with a growing conventional military industry relationship between Delhi and Washington, not only has the effect of helping to stoke an arms race in South Asia, so quite possibly increasing the emphasis placed upon nuclear deterrence in Pakistan, but also could increase the risk of nuclear terrorism.

Dalton was the former head of safeguards at the DoE.

Now we should recall that the White House tells us that the risk of nuclear terrorism is “serious” and “increasing.” Should Dalton speak the truth that equates to Washington placing greater emphasis on the geopolitical and economic relationship with India than combatting nuclear terrorism. It could mean, by contrast, that the threat of nuclear terrorism is not as high as Washington makes out.

Take your pick which you think is more accurate (assuming Dalton is correct, of course). I would wager that it is the latter.

Speaking of India, Hillary Clinton has repeated US demands that India lower its regulatory standards that it places upon its nuclear industry, a story also carried today by GSN

“We need to resolve those issues that still remain so that we can reap the rewards of the extraordinary work that both of our governments have done,” Clinton said during a visit to India this week…

Clinton is demanding, post Fukushima and all, that India lowers its standards to that practised everywhere else.

Perhaps the world could follow India and increase its standards to match best practice in India?
This is a point not unrelated to one made by Sig Hecker in the latest issue of Physics Today

Constrained by sanctions, India developed most of its nuclear energy capabilities indigenously, especially its excellent nuclear R&D; the extent and functionality of its nuclear experimental facilities are matched only by those in Russia and are far ahead of what is left in the US. I believe India has the most technically ambitious and innovative nuclear energy program in the world. Our government has been concerned about leakage of US nuclear technologies to India, when we should instead be trying to learn from that country…

Clinton’s bombast looks to me like it proves that Hecker is right on the money.

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