Daily Revolt

November 12, 2007

Pakistan Nuclear Weapons Threatened

While the Bushies prepare for war to prevent the Iranians from getting the bomb, Pakistan nukes could fall into the wrong hands:
When the United States learned in 2001 that Pakistani scientists had shared nuclear secrets with members of al-Qaeda, an alarmed Bush administration responded with tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment such as intrusion detectors and ID systems to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

But Pakistan remained suspicious of U.S. aims and declined to give U.S. experts direct access to the half-dozen or so bunkers where the components of its arsenal of about 50 nuclear weapons are stored. For the officials in Washington now monitoring Pakistan's deepening political crisis, the experience offered both reassurance and grounds for concern.

[...]Of the world's nine declared and undeclared nuclear arsenals, none provokes as much worry in Washington as Pakistan's, numerous U.S. officials said. The government in Islamabad is arguably the least stable. Some Pakistani territory is partly controlled by insurgents bent on committing hostile acts of terrorism in the West. And officials close to the seat of power -- such as nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan and his past collaborators in the Pakistani military -- have a worrisome track record of transferring sensitive nuclear designs or technology to others.

That record, and the counterterror prism of U.S. policymaking since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have led the Bush administration to worry less that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal might be used in a horrific war with India than that it could become a security threat to the U.S. homeland in the event of any theft or diversion to terrorist groups.

Because the risks are so grave, U.S. intelligence officials have long had contingency plans for intervening to obstruct such a theft in Pakistan, two knowledgeable officials confirmed. The officials would not discuss details of the plans, which are classified, but several former officials said the plans envision efforts to remove a nuclear weapon at imminent risk of falling into terrorists' hands.

Does al Qaeda have the bomb?:
Concerns about possible thefts if the government's authority erodes or disintegrates extend to nuclear components, design plans and special materials such as enriched uranium. Twice in the past six years, Pakistan has acknowledged that its nuclear scientists passed sensitive nuclear information or equipment to outsiders -- including, in one case, members of al-Qaeda.

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.

I hate to say I told you so, but I argued in May that we were headed in this direction:
Are we headed for civil war in Pakistan? Such an occurrence would have catastrophic consequences, since we depend on the Pakistanis in the war on terror...

This is what you get when you support an unscrupulous dictator. al Qaeda knows how important Musharraf is to the United States. And they would be home free if his military dictatorship collapsed. It is ironic that the U.S. is in effect supporting tyranny over democracy in Pakistan. That is why the White House remains silent on the question of Pakistan...

Meanwhile, the administration continues to show incredible naivete or are in cohoots with their puppet man in Pakistan:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has welcomed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's promise to hold elections by early January and give up his military post. But in a nationally broadcast interview, she warned that the state of emergency he imposed on the country must end.

Doesn't sound like much outrage over the overthrowing of democracy from the White House. I wonder how much of this has to do with preventing Benazir Bhutto from gaining power again:
"My reaction is that the positive element here is that elections are going to be held and held very soon," Rice said. "And also that the president said he was going to take off his uniform. These have both been essential to getting Pakistan back on a democratic path."

But at the same time, she stresses more must be done.

"Obviously, we are also encouraging that the state of emergency has got to be lifted and lifted as soon as possible," Rice said.

During an appearance on the ABC television program This Week, Rice rebutted criticism that the Bush administration has been too soft on President Musharraf. She said Pakistan is an ally and friend that is going through extraordinarily difficult circumstances. She said the proper role for the United States is to counsel and persuade. And she stressed that as troubling as things seem right now, Pakistan has come far since 1999, when Pervez Musharraf came to power in a military coup.

"This is not a perfect situation," Rice said. "Pakistan is a country that has a come a long way from 1999, and the military coup has come a long way from 2001 when it pledged to root out extremism. But it is not a perfect situation and nobody would suggest that it is."

Sounds like acquiescence to me.

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