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Pakistan's Security of Nuclear Arsenal in the News after Taliban Attack

By       Message Dave Lefcourt     Permalink
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Symbol, nuclear WMD

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The latest news out of Pakistan is some Taliban fighters attacked an air base some 37 miles north of the capitol Islamabad that "could" have been housing nuclear weapons. The attack was repelled with only a fighter plane and an airplane hangar damaged. Pakistan denied any nuclear weapons were present at the site.

Of course the attack made news here in the U.S. because of Pakistan's alleged lax security in protecting its nuclear arsenal (which they vehemently deny).

But this supposed lack of security has been a constant reminder planted in the minds of the American public over the years and promoted by the U.S. media particularly the idea of terrorists being able to steal a Pakistani nuclear weapon and detonating it over the U.S.

The propaganda surrounding such an occurrence has escalated ever since the U.S. invasion of neighboring Afghanistan in 2001. Chattering insinuations by the talking heads over Pakistan's unstable government, its ambivalence in following U.S. insistence of being more diligent in going after the Taliban inside the country, the alleged ties between the Pakistani security apparatus (ISI) and the Taliban, plus their alleged knowledge of and supposed sanctuary of Osama bin Laden (before U.S. Special OPS took him out) has also contributed to the suspicion and lack of trust over the country's security of its nuclear arsenal.    

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Thus the underlying buzz in the U.S. media remains how secure are Pakistan's nuclear weapons and how likely is it for terrorists to get their hands on one.

Now let's be clear; any attack using nuclear weapons is insane and security of all existing weapons should be a top priority. And of course elimination and banning of all nuclear weapons should be the world's number one goal, but that's a discussion for another day.

For now let's dwell on the probability of terrorists somehow stealing a nuclear weapon and ask the following questions:

-          How would they transport it?

-          How would they be able to conceal it?

-          Lastly, how would they be able to detonate it?

First of all stealing a nuclear weapon by terrorists would bring about the biggest manhunt of all time. Even putting the weapon on a truck or a van and hiding it in a warehouse would be a monumental effort; then getting it moved and transported by a vehicle onto a plane or more likely into a container and on to a transport ship. How would they be able to detonate it without the launch codes and other safety measures build into the device? Also it being a nuclear device wouldn't it have a footprint and be detected?

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Well enough of this cat and mouse game. From here, the reality of a nuclear weapon being stolen, then transported and detonated by terrorists is so unlikely and far fetched it should be kept in the realm of science fiction. There's a greater likelihood of aliens invading than terrorists acquiring and detonating a nuclear device.

But lastly, if such a scenario of terrorists acquiring a nuclear device and detonating it has any validity, then why hasn't there been a national debate about it? Would openly discussing and highlighting it make it more likely to happen?

It just seems we need a debate on terrorism in general. How many people are aware there's a better chance of being killed by lightening than being killed by a terrorist.

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