Monday 4 May 2009

Concerns about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal: case of international diplomatic bullying

So the Americans want to know the details and locations of Pakistan's nuclear installations and assets. why! Because they are concerned about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and infrastructure and worried that Taliban might steal one of the nukes.

Though they do not appear to accept the assurances from Pakistan government that the weapons are secure, apparently they trust the Pakistan Army and its capability to keep the nukes safe. President Obama said last week that he remained confident that keeping the country’s nuclear infrastructure secure was the top priority of Pakistan’s armed forces. Pakistan defence capabilities are managed by a National Security Council chaired by the President himself but the nuclear installations and the arsenal is under the control of the military under direct command of the Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani.

While Mr. Obama says “I’m confident that we can make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure,”...“primarily, initially, because the Pakistani Army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands”, other members of his administration have been increasing the pressure on Pakistan's political leadership to divulge details of nuclear sites and where the weapons are secured. Pakistanis, rightly so, are not amenable to American requests for more details about the location and security of the country’s nuclear sites. There are concerns that the United States or its ally Israel encouraged by India might be tempted to seize or destroy Pakistan’s arsenal - they have reached very close to doing so at least three times over the last three decades. Only the threat of a full scale retaliation from Pakistan had kept them at bay.

According to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton Pakistan's weapons “are widely dispersed in the country.” “There’s not a central location, as you know,” ... “They’ve adopted a policy of dispersing their nuclear weapons and facilities.” Taliban insurgency is focussed on North West of the country along borders with Afghanistan - so what's the problem.

I have heard enough crap around responsible governance and a commonly held western perception that only western democracies could be considered as responsible nations to hold the key to a nuclear Arsenal.

Over the last sixty years it is not Pakistan who has lost over 92 nukes across the world without a clue as to where they are. It is not Pakistan who has the dubious honour of using a nuke in a war and destroying living cities in the process.

My questions:
  • Have the Americans offered similar details about American arsenal across the world to Pakistan in exchange!
  • Why is Pakistan an exception - did the Americans or anyone else in the world ever asked Britain similar questions at the height of Irish insurgency or Israel at the height of Palestinian movement.
Obvious answer is that this is a case of international diplomatic bullying aimed at the political leadership in Pakistan. America knows that democratic government in Pakistan might be politically week and the army might be dealing with the US created Taliban phenomenon but there is no issue of lack of responsibility that comes with being a nuclear armed nation.

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