Are Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Safe or Not?

Manila Bulletin, May 8, 2009 | Go to article overview

Are Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Safe or Not?


ISLAMABAD — With Pakistani Taliban militants mounting an increasingly robust challenge to security forces, fears have been raised about the safety of the country’s nuclear arsenal.The security of the weapons may figure in talks in Washington on Wednesday between President Asif Ali Zardari and President Barack Obama.Pakistan first tested nuclear weapons in 1998 in response to tests by old rival and neighbour India.What is the US position?Obama said last week he was confident about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal although he was “gravely concerned’’ about the overall situation in Pakistan because of its weak government.Despite that, the New York Times reported this week growing concern among US officials that militants might try to snatch a nuclear weapon in transit or insert sympathisers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities.Pakistani analysts see the mixed signals from the United States as adding to pressure on the government, which the United States wants to see getting to grips with the militant threat.What is Pakistan’s postion?Pakistan rejects such fears over its nuclear weapons as “misplaced and unfounded’’ saying it has very robust, multilayered command and control systems.Many Pakistanis believe the ultimate US aim is to confiscate Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and analysts say reports of US fears about nuclear security fuel such conspiracy theories. …

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Are Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Safe or Not?
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