US seeking to secure Pak nukes in case of ‘crisis’
WASHINGTON: The US has been negotiating highly sensitive understandings with the Pakistani military about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported in the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine.
The journalist wrote that during meetings with current and former officials in Washington and Pakistan, he was told that the agreements would allow specially trained American units to provide added security for the Pakistani arsenal in case of a crisis. At the same time, the Pakistani military would be given money to equip and train Pakistani soldiers and improve their housing and facilities, says the report.
The principal fear was that “extremists inside the military might stage a coup, take control of some nuclear assets, or even divert a warhead”, notes Hersh.
The report says that the arrangement serves as a safeguard in case of a quickly escalating confrontation with India, but also makes the weapons vulnerable during shipment and reassembly.
Meanwhile, former president Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that his government had given US State Department non-proliferation experts insight into the command-and-control of the Pakistani arsenal and its on-site safety and security procedures, says the report.
US Embassy spokesman Larry Schwartz did not confirm or deny the report, but noted Hillary Clinton had recently said the US had confidence in Pakistan’s ability to protect its nuclear programmes and material. afp