U.S. Prepared to “Snatch” Pakistani Nukes, Report Claims

Global Security Newswire
August 4, 2011

U.S. military and intelligence operatives are debating, strategizing, gaming and potentially even conducting drills on entering Pakistan and seizing the unstable nation’s nuclear weapons during a crisis, NBC News reported on Wednesday.

Relying on official congressional remarks, military documents and interviews with present and ex-U.S. officials, NBC News said this planning is taking place amid repeated statements by senior U.S. military officials that they have confidence in the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

“It’s safe to assume that planning for the worst-case scenario regarding Pakistan nukes has [already] taken place inside the U.S. government,” ex-White House Deputy Counterterrorism Director Roger Cressey said. “This issue remains one of the highest priorities of the U.S. intelligence community … and the White House.”

The specifics of the planning for any potential “snatch-and-grab” scenario, including if U.S. special forces would try to dismantle or eliminate the weapons, are a tightly held government secret, NBC reported.

A U.S. Congressional Research Service report last month concluded that terrorists would have the best chance of acquiring a Pakistani nuclear weapon following the collapse of the government in Islamabad.

The United States has worried about the security of the South Asian nation’s atomic assets since before the September 11 attacks and has provided advice to Islamabad in the years since on best practices for protecting the arsenal, which is thought to number between 90 and 110 warheads. …

Read on: http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20110804_7784.php