Pak nukes already under US control: Report
By Times Of India
11/20/07 "TOI" -- -- WASHINGTON: Pakistan's nuclear weapons are
already under American control even as analysts are working
themselves into a lather on the subject, a well-regarded
intelligence journal has said.
In a stunning disclosure certain to stir up things in
Washington's (and in Islamabad and New Delhi's) strategic
community, the journal Stratfor reported on Monday that the
"United States delivered a very clear ultimatum to Musharraf in
the wake of 9/11: Unless Pakistan allowed US forces to take
control of Pakistani nuclear facilities, the United States would
be left with no choice but to destroy those facilities, possibly
with India's help."
"This was a fait accompli that Musharraf, for credibility
reasons, had every reason to cover up and pretend never
happened, and Washington was fully willing to keep things
quiet," the journal, which is widely read among the intelligence
The Stratfor commentary came in response to an earlier New York
Times story that reported that the Bush administration had spent
around $100 million to help Pakistan safeguard its nuclear
weapons, but left it unclear if Washington has a handle on the
Over the past fortnight, even since the crisis in Pakistan broke
and eclipsed every other geopolitical story, including Iraq, US
officials and analysts have been speaking in different voices on
the subject of a jihadi takeover of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Some officials have expressed deep concern at the possibility
and suggested US is ready with contingency plans to defang
Pakistan of its nuclear weapons, while others have tried to
assuage Islamabad by saying they believe the country's military
rulers have good custodial control over their crown jewels.
On Monday, a State Department official once again addressed the
issue and hinted that Washington was in control of the
"... ultimately, the major responsibility for that falls with
the Pakistani government. They have made public comments to the
effect that the arsenal is secure, that they have taken a number
of different steps to ensure that," State Department spokesman
Sean McCormack said.
"We ourselves see no indication to indicate to the contrary. It
is secure. We obviously have an interest in seeing that it is
secure," McCormack added.
Stratfor , too, appears confident that the Bush administration
has a handle on Pak's nukes.
Not everyone is so sanguine. In a separate commentary over the
weekend that had some US and Pakistani analysts blowing their
gasket, two prominent Washington commentators detailed a US
military action plan inside Pakistan, possibly with the
cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces, to seize the nuclear
arsenal if there was imminent danger of an extremist takeover.
"As the government of Pakistan totters, we must face a fact: the
United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed
Pakistan descended into the abyss," proposed Frederick Kagan and
Michael O'Hanlon, analysts at two Washington DC think-tanks.
"One possible plan would be a Special Forces operation with the
limited goal of preventing Pakistan's nuclear materials and
warheads from getting into the wrong hands."
Pakistan's own leaders have spoken about the subject -- of
nuclear weapons falling into extremist hands --with different
emphasis and objectives.
General Pervez Musharraf has suggested continued Western support
to his military regime is the best way to prevent the nukes from
falling into extremist hands, an "after-me-the-deluge" argument
that some analysts see as unabashed blackmail.
The country's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has also invoked
the loose nukes scenario to urge US to abandon the military
regime, which she says has given rise to growing extremism and
fissiparous tendencies that increase the danger of the nuclear
arsenal going awry.
Officially though, Islamabad is touchy about any commentary on
its nuclear arsenal, and goes into transports of hysteria to
assert that it is a responsible country with good command and
control over its crown jewels.
In the latest outburst, the country's out-going foreign minister
Khurshid Kasuri asserted that Pakistan is fully capable of
securing its nuclear assets and some Western lobbies are busy in
creating confusion taking the advantage of ongoing conditions in
The multi-layer security structure of the nuclear assets has a
strong command and control system in place and there is no need
for anyone at home or abroad to worry about the security of
these assets, he insisted.
But judging by the volume of worried commentary and analysis the
subject is now getting, there aren't many takers for such
assurances and the last word on the matter hasn't been said or
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