YaleGlobal Online

Pakistan and the Bomb

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. The arsenal is well protected, concealed and dispersed. The Pakistani army makes every effort to deny information about the locations of its weapons out of fear of any falling into enemy hands, especially American hands. The army is ready to use its nukes to defend their country, holding onto the national deterrent against any foreign threat.

But the international community questions Pakistani control: Are the nukes safe from Pakistan’s own home-grown opponents? The assassination of Salman Taseer – the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab – by his own bodyguard raises serious new questions about the process of vetting key employees in the Pakistani security infrastructure. And there’s compelling reports that Pakistan is prepared to share its weapons with its closest ally, Saudi Arabia, if Riyadh feels threatened by Iran.

The Pakistani nuclear button is in the control of the country’s military leaders.The democratically elected leadership has only nominal authority over them. If the country fell into the wrong hands, those of the militant Islamic jihadism and al Qaeda, so would the arsenal. The United States and the rest of the world would face the worst security threat since the Cold War.

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