Most of the articles in the paper this morning seem to be focusing on the effect of a every-man-for-himself Pakistan in the terror war. But isn’t there another important question that few people seem to be asking?
Who’s got the nukes?
The country reportedly has 24-48 nuclear warheads. A 2001 report from the Defense Department contained this chilling summary: “no one has been able to ascertain the validity of Pakistan’s assurances about their nuclear weapons security.”
Judging by the news coverage, there aren’t a lot of people on this side of the Atlantic who seem terribly concerned. “Experts say a 10-member committee makes decisions on how to use them and only a complete meltdown in governance – still a distant prospect in Pakistan – could put the atomic bomb in the hands of extremists,” the Associated Press reported last week.
Last fall, the New York Times reported that the U.S. is intimately involved in guarding Pakistan’s nukes. But it’s a “highly classified” program and who knows what a collapsed government’s effect on the program is?
A more recent story in the Times — last week — indicated U.S. officials have been unable to scrutinize security procedures in Pakistan.
Perhaps the greatest concern is what one senior Bush administration official recently termed “steadfast efforts” by the extremist groups to infiltrate Pakistan’s nuclear laboratories, the heart of a vast infrastructure that employs tens of thousands of people. Some of the efforts, officials said, are believed to have involved Pakistani scientists trained abroad.
With a Russian general suggesting a nuclear response to the U.S. – Poland deal on missiles, and a member of the nuclear club under assault by the surrogates for Osama bin Laden, shouldn’t this subject have a higher profile in the presidential race than who the vice presidential picks are going to be?
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