Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari turned over formal control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in November amid continuing political upheaval and doubts about the future of his presidency.
Zardari’s decision to give up the chairmanship of the National Command Authority (NCA) “was not taken in isolation or under any pressure, rather [it was] meant to decentralize the powers” of the president, Press Secretary to the President Taimur Azmat Osman said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press of Pakistan, a government-run news agency. The text of the Nov. 27 ordinance implementing the decision was not available at press time.
Pakistan is passing through an extremely delicate phase in its history. Recent instability in Pakistan, including the Taliban's advance into settled areas, prompted the Pakistani military to undertake large-scale military operations in the Swat Valley. As military and Taliban forces fight in the rugged tribal terrain, several Western analysts have raised concerns about the future of nuclear Pakistan. (Continue)
Today's frightening instability in Pakistan comes in a world in which global terrorists are actively seeking nuclear weapons and the materials and expertise needed to make them, a quest that has been underway for more than a decade. Rapid action is needed to keep the Taliban's advances in Pakistan from creating new opportunities for these deadly adversaries. (Continue)
The security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and infrastructure has been the subject of much coverage and debate in recent months as Pakistani government forces have stepped up their fight against insurgents. In this month's issue, two leading experts offer detailed analyses of the risks and possible policy responses. (Continue)
Ten years ago this month, tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers faced off in a confrontation over the disputed Kashmir region. If not for intensive U.S.-led crisis diplomacy, that standoff and another in 2002 could have led to war between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Since then, Indian and Pakistani nuclear and missile stockpiles have grown even larger, and the underlying conditions for conflict still persist. Indian military planners foolishly believe they can engage in and win a limited conventional conflict without triggering a nuclear exchange even though the Pakistani army's strategy relies on nuclear weapons to offset India's overwhelming conventional superiority. (Continue)
Pakistani and U.S. officials have sought to allay increasing concerns in recent months that instability in Pakistan might threaten the security of Islamabad's nuclear weapons. Pakistani security forces have been engaged in open conflict with militant factions that now control large areas of the country's northwestern territories. (Continue)
In the initial weeks of the Obama administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney stated that there was a "high probability" of a terrorist attempt to use a nuclear weapon or biological agent and that "whether they can pull it off depends on what kind of policies we put in place." President Barack Obama, in his April 5 Prague speech, said that terrorists "are determined to buy, build, or steal" a nuclear weapon and that the international community must work "without delay" to ensure that they never acquire one. Obama also outlined a number of policies for locking down vulnerable nuclear material and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. (Continue)
In February, Pakistan lifted most restrictions on former Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan, who had organized an extensive black market network contributing nuclear weapons-related technology to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and perhaps other countries. The Islamabad High Court Feb. 6 declared Khan a "free citizen," although still subject to some undisclosed security measures, after finding that charges against Khan for nuclear smuggling could not be proved. (Continue)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report Feb. 19 indicating that Syria has failed to provide adequate information regarding a destroyed facility the West suspects was once a clandestine nuclear reactor. The agency stated that a Feb. 17 letter it received from Syria in response to questions regarding the site and potentially related locations and activities "did not address most of the questions raised in the agency's communications." In addition, Damascus has only allowed the agency to carry out a single visit to the site of the destroyed facility and has not provided the IAEA with access to additional sites as requested. (Continue)
The world's most notorious nuclear proliferator is once again a free man. Worried about what he might reveal in court about Pakistan's complicity and eager to demonstrate its independence from Washington, the fragile government of Prime Minister Asif Ali Zadari allowed the release last month of the country's former nuclear weapons program chief, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
For more than a decade, Khan was the mastermind of a far-flung global black market network that delivered advanced nuclear weapons-related technology to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and perhaps others. (Continue)
Historian Barbara Tuchman described the trail of misperceptions and bad decisions that led to mankind's worst self-imposed disasters as a "March of Folly." Now is the time for India and Pakistan to take steps to ensure that another war or crisis between them does not result in a nuclear exchange that destroys both societies. (Continue)
Key nuclear suppliers wasted little time in offering their goods to
Ten years ago, the governments of India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices, prompting a global uproar, a united front by the five permanent members (P-5) of the UN Security Council, and stiff sanctions directed at New Delhi and Islamabad. Although the timing of the tests came as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence community, New Delhi had foreshadowed its decision to test two years earlier by withdrawing from the negotiating endgame for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a goal that was ardently championed from 1954 onward by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, and his successors. (Continue)
In recent months, Pakistani officials have sought to allay concerns that the deteriorating security situation in their country would allow extremist elements to acquire nuclear weapons or materials. Political instability in Pakistan has persisted over the past year, raising questions about Islamabad’s ability to protect its nuclear assets. (Continue)
It is good to see Kenneth N. Luongo and Brigadier General (Ret.) Naeem Salik’s unbridled optimism about Pakistan’s ability to safeguard its nuclear arsenal (“Building Confidence in Pakistan’s Nuclear Security,” December 2007). But a more tempered approach would perhaps have been better. In thinking about how well Pakistan may be able to secure its nuclear weapons, materials, and experts, it is worth remembering that Pakistan has been unable to protect its constitution from military coups, has lost half its territory (East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) in 1971, and has failed to safeguard the lives of its most prominent political leaders in recent months. (Continue)