Pakistans nuclear arsenal in safe hands.......

The safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has been secretly discussed between Gordon Brown and President George Bush amid fears that the riots against President Pervez Musharraf could lead to anarchy.

The Prime Minister has been assured that the nuclear weapons held by Pakistan are not at risk. The United States defence and intelligence services are believed to have prepared a "contingency" plan for dealing with the weapons, although it is a closely guarded secret.

But in talks with the President, Mr Brown has been assured that the military forces in Pakistan remain firmly in control and there is no present risk of the weapons falling into the hands of extremists.

"The military is the most functional part of the regime," said one senior government source. "No one is suggesting there is any particular concern." The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband said: "We have had no evidence of any threats or change in the security of the nuclear weapons that Pakistan has."

US officials also said there was no new intelligence to suggest Pakistan's tight controls on its nuclear facilities were in any danger of being compromised.

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is under the operational control of the military's Strategic Plans Division, led by Lt-Gen Khalid Kidwai, an officer with close ties to American military officials.

Daniel Markey, a former State Department official who focused on US policy in south Asia, told the Los Angeles Times: "If we started to see things deteriorate, there would be an urgent and immediate effort to reach out to him. If there's a safe box within Pakistan's army, this is it."

Most experts believe that Pakistan has produced enough highly enriched uranium for about 50 nuclear weapons or warheads. After the 9/11 al-Qa'ida attacks on the US, Pakistan began redistributing its nuclear weapons components among half a dozen or more locations for added safety.
In full
Cheers Ski, but I am at a loss to understand what the cartoon has to do with Pakistans nukes?
No worries Mr D and AJ, but I am also at a loss to the 'hidden meaning' of the image!


edited to add after seeing Mr D's post. - No, I still don't get it! but dont worry, metaphor is not one of my strong suits. I am more of a literalist!
In-Limbo said:
Those Nukes are safe.
Pakistan Nuclear Security Questioned
Lack of Knowledge About Arsenal May Limit U.S. Options

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 11, 2007; Page A01
Anytime a nation with nuclear weapons experiences "a situation such as Pakistan is at present, that is a primary concern," said Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director of operations for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a Pentagon news conference last week. "We'll watch that quite closely, and I think that's probably all I can say about that at this point."
Two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists traveled to Afghanistan in August 2001 at the request of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He pressed the scientists for details on how to make nuclear weapons, and the scientists replied with advice and crude diagrams, according to U.S. officials at the time.

Officials at the Pakistani Embassy declined to comment for this story.
Pakistan, which tested its first warhead in 1998, began developing nuclear weapons in the 1970s with help from Khan, the Pakistani engineer who years later became the leader of an international nuclear smuggling ring. Khan covertly acquired sensitive nuclear information and equipment from several European countries, helped build the stockpile and later profited personally by providing materials to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

Pakistan has repeatedly asserted that its government and army were unaware of Khan's proliferation activities until 2003. However, numerous published accounts have described extensive logistical support that military officials provided to Khan, including the use of military aircraft.

In the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration dispatched Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage and other senior officials to Islamabad to raise the issue of safeguarding the country's nuclear arsenal. Musharraf agreed to policy changes and security upgrades, starting with the dismissal of some Pakistani intelligence officials suspected of ties to the Taliban, bin Laden's ally.
Unlike U.S. nuclear arms, which are protected by integrated electronic packages known as "permissive action links," or PALs, that require a special access code, Pakistan chose to rely on physical separation of bomb components, such as isolating the fissile "core" or trigger from the weapon and storing it elsewhere. All the components are stored at military bases.
Washington is confident that Pakistan's nuclear safeguards are designed to be robust enough to withstand a "fair amount of political commotion," said John Brennan, a retired CIA official and former director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The problem, he said, is that no one can reliably predict what will happen if the country slides toward civil war or anarchy.

"There are some scenarios in which the country slides into a situation of anarchy in which some of the more radical elements may be ascendant," said Brennan, now president of Analysis Corp., a private consulting firm based in Fairfax. "If there is a collapse in the command-and-control structure -- or if the armed forces fragment -- that's a nightmare scenario. If there are different power centers within the army, they will each see the strategic arsenal as a real prize."

Other nuclear "prizes" could leak more easily if the military holds together and the bombs remain in their bunkers, according to David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and president of the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security. He said individuals working inside nuclear facilities could make a quick fortune by selling bomb components or "fissile" material -- the plutonium or enriched uranium needed for building bombs.

"If stability doesn't return, you do have to worry about the thinking of the people with access to these things," said Albright, whose Washington-based institute tracks global nuclear stockpiles. "As loyalties break down, they may look for an opportunity to make a quick buck. You may not be able to get the whole weapon, but maybe you can get the core."
So basically if you control the military bases it's party time. You would need a bomb wonk of course. It's just as well AQ Khan is safely under lock and key.
Monday, July 2, 2007; 1:49 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A.Q. Khan, the scientist who became a national hero for developing Pakistan's atomic bomb and went on to sell nuclear secrets abroad, can leave house arrest to meet with friends and relatives, officials said Monday.
However, Pakistan says it has shared the findings of its own probe and the Bush administration has repeatedly praised Islamabad for its help in preventing further nuclear proliferation.

One of the officials who spoke Monday said no country had asked to "directly interrogate" Khan and reiterated that the investigation was over.

Mahdi Hassan, a retired professor and political analyst, said news of the eased restrictions was leaked because the U.S. government had recently expressed satisfaction over the way Pakistan has handled the investigation.

"It is only because of the clearance we have received from the U.S. government," he said.
So that's alright then.
alib said:
[Unlike U.S. nuclear arms, which are protected by integrated electronic packages known as "permissive action links," or PALs, that require a special access code, Pakistan chose to rely on physical separation of bomb components, such as isolating the fissile "core" or trigger from the weapon and storing it elsewhere. All the components are stored at military bases.
I would be more worried who is incharge of the American Nukes. :roll:
Washington Post said:
Unlike U.S. nuclear arms, which are protected by integrated electronic packages known as "permissive action links," or PALs, that require a special access code, Pakistan chose to rely on physical separation of bomb components, such as isolating the fissile "core" or trigger from the weapon and storing it elsewhere. All the components are stored at military bases.
IIRC the US did actually offer to supply some sort of PALs system, or at least the computer code for one, to the Pakistanis but they declined. Apparently they were a little too worried that the system might have been secretly piggy-backed to allow the US to track their warheads or remotely deactivate them so they couldn't be used.
From 2006:
[align=center]Bad Options:
Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Live with Loose Nukes
By Thomas Donnelly[/align]
Does not think much of the "get into the ballpark and steal the ball option".
Even supposing that, like a George Clooney movie, the operation ends relatively successfully, a number of further questions would remain. Was all the nuclear material accounted for? How would we know? If some has gone missing, where is it, or how far might it have gone? (It’s not very far, for example, from Kahuta to Kashmir.) Even if we believe we have all the stuff, what it to be done with it? What, exactly, is meant by “rendering safe” – the term of art for dealing with recovered nuclear materials – in this situation?

And what happens after the immediate operation is concluded? What will have been the larger effect on what we have stipulated will be an extremely chaotic situation in Pakistan? Will we hold the nuclear materials “in trust” for a future Pakistani government? Will such a U.S. intervention tip the balance in a civil war – how could it not? What is a reasonable “exit strategy” in this situation?
warrant the effort, but working on a military “Plan B” is more than prudent. At the same time, taking the bottom-up, tactical-and-operational approach can only be expected to achieve limited goals, making a “military option” only slightly less unappealing while still leaving the strategic and geopolitical conundrums to be solved on the spot. One of the strongest reasons to work through the operational and tactical challenges is the need to make informed strategy. The
likelihood of the above scenario ever coming to pass is less important than the fact that the distances, geography and other military realities are, more or less, constants.

As hopeless as this paper may have made it seem, perhaps the best protection against a loss of control of nuclear materials in Pakistan is for the United States to adopt a long-term policy of engagement with the army and with the people of Pakistan. As things now stand, our desire for stability and nuclear control depends entirely on General Musharraf and the Pakistani army, a necessity that will continue for the foreseeable future. At the same time, the dominance of the army and the Punjabi elite has stifled any hopes for a more legitimate and responsible government in Islamabad.

Fortunately, the Bush Administration appears to have realized that South Asia is a strategic priority for the United States; the American commitment to Afghanistan and the budding strategic partnership with India have the potential to shape a more stable future for the region. Pakistan has every reason to feel itself an important part of this future, and to become something other than a paranoid state beset by enemies with nothing more than nuclear weapons to guarantee its safety. That would be a genuinely new option.
Any article that mentions dirty bombs and terrorists instantly makes me skeptical.

Unlike Iran Pakistan has not signed up to the NPT or CTBT, not all of Pakistan's nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards. The Pakistanis still rely on AQ Khan's murky nuclear network to provide much of the infrastructure of their program. BB recently offered to grant the IAEA access to Khan.

I think DC only knows what the military in Islamabad is willing to tell them and there is very little mutual trust in that relationship. What seems to be in place is notifications of nuke component movements within a few hours but this rests on a very shaky basis as there's no effective inspections regime like the IAEA provides elsewhere. That DC hasn't pressed Islamabad into normalizing its nuclear situation is looking like a major failure in US policy. DC has certain idealogical aversions to international treaties and institutions but here they are the rational means.

The danger here isn't so much when Mushie's head ends up on a pole and Pakistan's fairly marginal civilian Islamists rush to give AQ the bomb. It's the army itself that contains the threat. Any event that potentially splits the general staff is dangerous. That could equally well be BB's coronation or the inevitable coup that follows.

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