Pakistan’s Ticking Nuclear Time Bomb

Exclusive: Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal remains a top global security threat, as Islamic jihadists penetrate many of the nation’s political, educational and military institutions, says Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Dozens of world leaders are arriving in Washington, D. C. for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, a biennial event dedicated to minimizing the threat of loose nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations.

The summit couldn’t be more timely in view of recent revelations that militants linked to the Islamic State recruited two employees at a Belgian nuclear plant where an insider in 2014 drained thousands of gallons of lubricating oil, severely damaging its turbines.

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

The summit also comes just days after North Korea released a video threatening a nuclear first strike against Washington — an unrealistic but unsettling boast from one of the world’s most repressive and impenetrable regimes.

But an even greater threat to nuclear security lies thousands of miles from Belgium and Korea — in Pakistan. It is home to about 120 atomic weapons, making it the world’s fifth largest and fastest growing nuclear arsenal. Pakistan also has large stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for making dozens of new warheads.

No one should sleep well while the armed forces who are responsible for securing that deadly stockpile continue to collaborate openly with armed extremists at home and abroad, and adopt provocative doctrines for using nuclear weapons on the battlefield.

Pakistan is one of the last places on Earth to which you’d want to entrust nuclear weapons. The Pakistani industrialist Shakir Lakhani last year declared his country a “failed state,” noting that corruption is rampant and that terrorists “have infiltrated our institutions, our schools and colleges, our universities, our police departments, our armed forces and perhaps even our judiciary.”

The celebrated journalist Ahmed Rashid warns that Pakistan is “in the process of dissolution, facing the same fate as Syria or Somalia.”

Government collapse in Pakistan is…

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