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Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into dangerous hands

Defending the Arsenal In an unstable Pakistan, can nuclear warheads be kept safe? The New Yorker by Seymour M. Hersh November 16, 2009 America’s dealings with Pakistan may be increasing the risk of radicalization. “……………Pakistan has been a nuclear power for two decades, and has an estimated eighty to a hundred warheads, scattered in facilities around the country. The success of the latest attacks raised an obvious question: Are the bombs safe?  ………….

 

the Taliban overrunning Islamabad is not the only, or even the greatest, concern. The principal fear is mutiny—that extremists inside the Pakistani military might stage a coup, take control of some nuclear assets, or even divert a warhead………….

………the safeguards meant to keep a confrontation with India from escalating too quickly could make the arsenal more vulnerable to terrorists…………..

Pakistan’s fears about the United States coöperating with India are not irrational. Last year, Congress approved a controversial agreement that enabled India to purchase nuclear fuel and technology from the United States without joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty, making India the only non-signatory to the N.P.T. permitted to do so. Concern about the Pakistani arsenal has since led to greater coöperation between the United States and India in missile defense; the training of the Indian Air Force to use bunker-busting bombs; and “the collection of intelligence on the Pakistani nuclear arsenal,” according to the consultant to the intelligence community. (The Pentagon declined to comment.)…………..

“Nuclear weapons are only as safe as the people who handle them,” Pervez Hoodbhoy, an eminent nuclear physicist in Pakistan, said in a talk last summer at a Nation and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy forum in New York. For more than two decades, Hoodbhoy said, “the Pakistan Army has been recruiting on the basis of faithfulness to Islam. As a consequence, there is now a different character present among Army officers and ordinary soldiers. There are half a dozen scenarios that one can imagine.” There was no proof either that the most dire scenarios would be realized or that the arsenal was safe, he said.

Are nuclear weapons safe in Pakistan? : The New Yorker

November 9, 2009 - Posted by | 1, Pakistan, weapons and war | , , , ,

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