Pakistan nuclear thefts foiled
Arnaud de Borchgrave
Published 04:45 a.m., August 13, 2009
Is Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal theft-proof? Former President Pervez Musharraf and his successor, Asif Ali Zardari, and their army and intelligence chiefs repeatedly have assured both the Bush and Obama administrations that their 80-odd nuclear weapons are as secure as the U.S. arsenal of some 7,000 city busters.
The Pakistanis have separated warheads from delivery systems and stored them in different secret locations throughout the second-largest Muslim country in the world (after Indonesia). The United States has given Pakistan copies of its own blueprint to ensure fool-proof, total safety. Yet Pakistan’s secret nuclear-storage sites are known to Islamist extremists and have been attacked at least three times over the last two years, according to two recent reputable reports.
The Baltimore-based Maldon Institute, whose worldwide staff consists mostly of retired intelligence officers, and the Times of India’s Washington-based foreign editor Chidanand Rajghatta both report attempted nuclear thefts that have been tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in Britain.
The first such attack against the nuclear-missile-storage facility was on Nov. 1, 2007, at Sargodha; the second, by a suicide bomber, occurred Dec. 10, 2007, against Pakistan’s nuclear air base at Kamra; and the third, Aug. 20, 2008, and most alarming, was launched by several suicide bombers who blew up key entry points to a nuclear-weapons complex at the Wah Cantonment, long believed to be one of Pakistan’s main nuclear-weapons assembly points, where warheads and launchers come together in a national emergency.
Mr. Gregory’s research paper was first published in West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, and elicited no attention or reaction. Renowned terrorist expert Peter Bergen, one of the very few journalists to interview al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden before Sept. 11, 2001, reviewed Mr. Gregory’s paper and was baffled by the lack of reaction from the rest of the media.