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Depressing, Terrifying Article about Pakistan’s Nukes

Coming soon to a theater near you?

COMMENT: The Atlantic has published an article that should scare the Hell out of anyone with half a brain. It is no secret that Pakistan, while nominally a U.S. ally  and the recipient of vast amounts of U.S. aid, actively supports the Taliban and Haqqani fighters, who are killing U.S. troops, as well as Islamist terror groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Following the Abbotabad raid to neutralize Osama bin Laden, the Pakistani political and military leadership have been taking steps to see to it that the United States cannot conduct a similar raid to seize their nuclear arsenal.

Among the tactics they are using is the employment of low-security delivery vans to move virtually battle-ready nukes around through everyday traffic. This would make it especially easy for those weapons to fall into the hands of terrorist groups, known to have infiltrated Pakistani security forces and enjoying the support of that country’s ISI intelligence service.

The entire article is worth reading and taking to heed. It is not for the fainthearted.

The Ally from Hell” by Jeffrey Goldberg and Marc Ambinder; The Atlantic; December/2011.

EXCERPT: . . . .Still, General Kidwai promised that he would redouble the SPD’s efforts to keep his country’s weapons far from the prying eyes, and long arms, of the Americans, and so he did: according to multiple sources in Pakistan, he ordered an increase in the tempo of the dispersal of nuclear-weapons components and other sensitive materials. One method the SPD [Security Plans Division] uses to ensure the safety of its nuclear weapons is to move them among the 15 or more facilities that handle them. Nuclear weapons must go to the shop for occasional maintenance, and so they must be moved to suitably equipped facilities, but Pakistan is also said to move them about the country in an attempt to keep American and Indian intelligence agencies guessing about their locations.

Nuclear-weapons components are sometimes moved by helicopter and sometimes moved over roads. And instead of moving nuclear material in armored, well-defended convoys, the SPD prefers to move material by subterfuge, in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic. According to both Pakistani and American sources, vans with a modest security profile are sometimes the preferred conveyance. And according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, the Pakistanis have begun using this low-security method to transfer not merely the “de-mated” component nuclear parts but “mated” nuclear weapons. [Italics are mine–D.E.] Western nuclear experts have feared that Pakistan is building small, “tactical” nuclear weapons for quick deployment on the battlefield. In fact, not only is Pakistan building these devices, it is also now moving them over roads. . . .


7 comments for “Depressing, Terrifying Article about Pakistan’s Nukes”

  1. It’s a rather scary article, but unfortunately, the sad truth is, there very well could come a day when foreign, or perhaps even DOMESTIC, terrorists, could, in fact, detonate a low-yield atom bomb or two in a major U.S. or other Western city……frankly, even Russia can’t be immune to nuclear terror from either source.

    Posted by Steven L. | November 7, 2011, 4:17 am
  2. Strangely, the following recent news item has made no traction in the hysteria cloud of cable news. I’ve seen no clarification or followup, either debunking or developing the story.


    Report: Libya’s NTC chief says nuclear weapons located
    10/30/2011 23:26

    The outgoing premier of Libya’s NTC, Mahmoud Jibril said Sunday that nuclear weapons were found in the country, according to the Al Arabiya TV network, Israel Radio reported.

    Jibril also said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will provide further details on the weapons found in the next few days, according to the report.

    Posted by R. Wilson | November 7, 2011, 11:23 pm
  3. A side note about the author of that piece, Jeffrey Goldberg:

    Goldberg has a somewhat controversial track record, having pushed for war with Iraq on the basis of his certainty over WMD, and his certainty of Al Qaeda ties to Saddam Hussein, then briefly reported that WMD were found in Iraq.

    Goldberg also reported immediately following the Norway shootings that unnamed “Jihadists” were responsible, before it was determined that Breivik was the shooter. Goldberg did not retract his claims but added a post-hoc “possibility of right-wing terrorism” to his original article.

    None of this is to say that details within the Atlantic article aren’t valid or correct. I have read elsewhere about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons being kept mobile in vans. Not to mention the entire sordid track record of the ISI and A. Q. Khan’s ties to right-wingers, et al.

    But Goldberg has a Neocon-supporting streak in his track record, and could be using a valid story to distort facts for his own agenda.

    Currently Goldberg is pushing for war with Iran.

    All of this can be found beginning with a Google search of “Jeffrey Goldberg WMD”. Plenty of Jewish & Israeli writers taking Goldberg to task, if there are suspicions that I am being anti-Semitic.

    Posted by R. Wilson | November 7, 2011, 11:35 pm
  4. @R. Wilson: Nah, I didn’t think you were being anti-Semitic(trust me when I say this; I have seen hundreds of REAL anti-Semites)….=)
    With that said, it IS always a good idea to try to find & point out as many diverse sources as possible, given that Goldberg does have a somewhat chequered record.

    Posted by Steven L. | November 8, 2011, 7:59 am
  5. Thank you, Robert. And why should we be surprised? “It hates the democracy next door.” This confident pronouncement, worthy of a Perle, Kristol or Podhoretz, is about all I could stand to read when this post hit the other day. I have since read the entire article. Yes, it is alarming and depressing, but…

    Though barely noticeable, the three slicks — The New Yorker, Harpers and The Atlantic Monthly — have waddled editorially from something we once called “liberal” to a fierce, default editorial position we have to call simply “pro-Power” (as it lacks the neat position papers of neoconservativism and other funded thinktankisms). In varied contexts this could include exposés and harsh critiques of the crimes of “fat-cats,” “bad-apples” or “lone-nuts,” plus shameless heaps of sanctimony. But so seldom do these publications examine actual institutional structures and long-term policies, that there is no real vocabulary for such a discussion. (Hey Jeff: Is India really a democracy, worthy and expectant of Pakistan’s non-hate? Last I looked it was a baldly fascist banana-super-republic, with a nuclear arsenal explicitly pointed westward. Oh, hold the phone, I have David Remnick on the other line, explaining in detail the subtle nuance and vast spectrum of opinion among Israel’s political parties and daily newspapers. Oh, hang on David, I have Anthony Eden — I mean Lewis Lapham — on the other line….)

    This shallowness says more about the packaging and sale of corporate product than about the reported facts themselves: like professional wrestling, commodified, “must-sell” journalism relies heavily on concise outrage, and hence must first proffer simple, unquestionable “truths” to make the sale. By the same sort of selling mechanism, the neocon first assigns white hats and black hats, making the argument always about good guys and bad guys.

    This has its analog in the pervasive journalistic shorthand of any editorial stamp — whether the Wall Street Journal or Mother Jones.

    Posted by Rob Coogan | November 16, 2011, 6:46 am
  6. @Rob Coogan: India does have its own problems, but just remember, China is MUCH, MUCH worse by far. Has been pretty much since Mao died.

    Posted by Steven l. | November 16, 2011, 8:45 am
  7. One of the good things about headlines like “Expert: Pakistan Taliban are ‘weak and divided'” is how it raises the obvious question how much longer we’re going to be seeing headlines like “Obama to Pakistan’s president: NATO bombing not deliberate attack, US committed to full probe” or “Fatal Suicide Attack Outside U.S. Base in Afghanistan” or
    The Senate Punted On Terror Law Detainees—and That’s a Good Thing”

    And if you’re wondering if that Senate punt on military detentions was a good thing, here was a headline from the previous day:
    “Senate rejects amendment to limit domestic military detention”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 4, 2011, 7:20 pm

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