Oct 15, 2009

Does al-Qaida Have Key to Unlock Pakistan Nukes?

Joseph FarahBy Joseph Farah

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't too concerned about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, saying that she has "confidence in the Pakistani government and the military's control over nuclear weapons," according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

However, when she dismisses the prospect that Islamic militants could overthrow the Pakistani government of President Asif Ali Zadari and gain control of its nuclear arsenal, her opinions are at odds with security specialists concerned that individuals in the Pakistani military are colluding with al-Qaida.

In a number of instances, these security experts point out, the Pakistani military provided safe houses for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before his capture. Mohammed was the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

One security expert, Shaun Gregory from the University of Bradford in Britain, points out that officials from Pakistan's civil nuclear sector have met with leaders of al-Qaida, including Osama bin Laden.

The prospect of an inside job became more worrisome after it was revealed that Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan, had set up a global black market nuclear network for more than a decade and had shared nuclear information with such state sponsors of terrorism as Iran and North Korea. The CIA has confirmed that Khan's associates had met with bin Laden prior to 9/11.

"Pakistan's weapons are less secure today than they were five years ago, and it seems they're even less secure than under the (President Gen. Pervez) Musharraf government," according to Gerald Steinberg, professor of conflict management at Bar Ilan University in Israel.
From the Israeli perspective, he said, confidence is diminishing in the U.S. ability to control events in Pakistan and protect that country's nuclear stockpile.

Concern over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has arisen again as a result of the attack last week by Islamist militants on the heavily guarded headquarters of the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi. The attackers were dressed in military uniforms.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack. The TTP, also known as the Students' Movement of Pakistan, is the top umbrella group of the Taliban in Pakistan. Their primary target is the Pakistani army. They seek enforcement of Shariah law and want the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization out of Afghanistan.
"If a relatively small group of people is able to penetrate into their 'Pentagon,' then it might show something about overconfidence of the Pakistanis, and that is worrisome – it's surprising that they were able to go in there relatively simply," said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists.
He estimates that Pakistan has up to 90 nuclear warheads.

Related Links

Pakistan's Nukes Safe Despite Intense Taliban Attack says Sec. Clinton - The Cutting Edge
Pakistan Crushed By Foreign Sponsored Terrorism - PakTribune.com
If army HQ isn't safe, are the nukes? - News & Observer
Spotlight, Pressure on Biden as Obama Weighs Afghanistan Advice - FOX News
Obama signs major Pakistan aid bill - USA Today