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Asian Times Online, Dec.19
On November 11, The Washington Post reported that the United States sent "tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment such as intrusion detectors and ID systems to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear weapons". A week later, The New York Times, which had been sitting on the story for three years, revealed that the program was in fact much larger, "Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million on a highly classified program to help General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, secure his country's nuclear weapons." The assistance ranged from "helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment".

The US military claims to be confident about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. A Pentagon press spokesman said, "At this point, we have no concerns. We believe that they are under the appropriate control." The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff declared, "I don't see any indication right now that security of those weapons is in jeopardy."

It would amaze me if the Americans don't know exactly where the nukes are and have plans ready to pick them up without making any fuss.

by Trond Ove on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 11:57:24 AM EST
"rumors" only, mind you, but rumors nevertheless of US quick reaction teams on site working with the paki military.  I can't remember if that was Seymour Hersh or not.  Nothing substantial though, sorry no links.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 12:07:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know either, but that certainly sounds like a Sy Hersh work, and he has, from what I've seen, been out in front of a lot of people.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 12:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can dimly remember a Newsweek article roughly three years ago. There was speculation about rapid reaction special forces stationed on Diego Garcia trained exclusively for taking control of Pakistani nuclear facilities.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 12:32:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If so that is true, they are probably airborne as we write.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 12:33:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kudos to your memory. Seymour Hirsch wrote on this in 2001.

Annals of National Security: Watching the Warheads: The New Yorker

Nonetheless, in recent weeks an élite Pentagon undercover unit--trained to slip into foreign countries and find suspected nuclear weapons, and disarm them if necessary--has explored plans for an operation inside Pakistan. In 1998, Pakistan successfully tested a nuclear device, heralded as the Islamic world's first atomic bomb. According to United States government estimates, Pakistan now has at least twenty-four warheads, which can be delivered by intermediate-range missiles and a fleet of F-16 aircraft.

[...]

In recent weeks, the Administration has been reviewing and "refreshing" its contingency plans. Such operations depend on intelligence, however, and there is disagreement within the Administration about the quality of the C.I.A.'s data. The American intelligence community cannot be sure, for example, that it knows the precise whereabouts of every Pakistani warhead--or whether all the warheads that it has found are real. "They've got some dummy locations," an official told me. "You only get one chance, and then you've tried and failed. The cat is out of the bag."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 12:44:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A week later, The New York Times, which had been sitting on the story for three years, revealed that the program was in fact much larger,

HAHAHAHAHA. Typical NYT. Just like the FISA stroy. Wonder what else they've stashed down in the vaults cos it's embarrassing to the repugs.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 12:37:30 PM EST
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I think the NYT keeps those things in the vault b/c they are embarrassing to the entire country.
by paving on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 01:48:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there are similar stories of the Murdoch empire having various things in their vaults in the UK

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 01:55:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Pakistan falls to powers openly hostile to the US and if the US attempts to relieve Pakistan of its nukes, the consequences will be profound.  Successful or not, the frustration and anger of the Islamic world would overflow.  
Overwhelming Afghanistan and invading Iraq are hardly comparable to engaging in an act of war with a country of a billion people.
I won't offer a prediction for the future, but we should not expect some fly-by-night nuke rescue to solve the over-arching problem.  Afghanistan is not going to remain in US control for long, that's for sure.  Guessing what happens next does not include any happy endings.
by Andhakari on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 01:00:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Overwhelming Afghanistan and invading Iraq are hardly comparable to engaging in an act of war with a country of a billion people.

Leaving aside that Pakistan has nowhere close to 1 billion people, I have to say that removing a couple of nukes hardly seems comparable to directly or indirectly killing hundreds of thousands of people.

It will piss off alot of people, true, but if Pakistan implodes, there are no good options when it comes to their nuclear weapons. Having them removed by the US might be one of the less dangerous ones, and might even be supported by parts of the current powers in Pakistan.

All this is of course pure speculation.

by Trond Ove on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 01:51:11 PM EST
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Sorry, I misspoke regarding the population figure.
In respect to the removal of nukes, I was not suggesting that nukes in the hands of irresponsible leadership was preferable to their removal (be they eastern, western, American or Pakistani), but rather that the removal did not solve the problem so much as redefine it.
The occupation of Afghanistan does become a very different sort of problem with an openly hostile Pakistan.  If that kind of problem is met by someone of George Bush's temperament and subtlety, then I think we can anticipate many new and less than entertaining developments.
And yes, many folk in the region would be happy to see Pakistan without nukes, but I don't think that will stop them from hating America more for their interference.  We don't need to anticipate "rational" reactions -- that would be a bit much to ask.
by Andhakari on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 05:41:52 PM EST
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There is also India to consider.

India/Pakistan damn near came to war several years ago and there are, unconfirmed AFAIK, reports of nuclear weapons being released to theater commanders.  Meaning, the world hovered on the brink of a nuclear exchange¹ with the 'hold' being the least stable theater commander.

India has continually repeated they think terrorist attacks in India are being supported and financed by the ISI.  Upon the military and political leadership concluding Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is under, or going to be under, control of the ISI or their political allies a sufficient condition for a pre-emptive First Strike has been met.  

¹ Jargon for a small scale nuclear war.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 02:35:57 PM EST
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Andhakari:
Overwhelming Afghanistan and invading Iraq are hardly comparable to engaging in an act of war with a country of a billion people.
You're mixing up the "one billion muslims" figure with the population of Pakistan, which is 1/6 of a billion. Than again, Pakistan is the 6th largest country in the world by population so it doesn't matter how big it is in absolute terms. It's still huge.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 06:36:44 AM EST
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What makes you think the US is even remotely capable of pulling off such a stunt? We are talking about people that screwed up such relatively simple operations as rescuing hostages from Tehran. About people that got themselves famously shot up in Somalia. And those were the elite units of the military.

There is no way such a thing is going to work.

by wing26 on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:30:55 PM EST
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Well, I think they could only hope to do it with help from the inside. Which when it comes to Pakistan is not beyond the realm of the possible. Whether they would still manage to screw it up is another question entirely...
by Trond Ove on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:06:47 AM EST
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If they managed to get the intel on the location and security of all the missiles, presumably they can plan an operation to take them out.

The problem is that even if you assume, say, a 95% chance of success for each individual mission, the odds of not being able to do everything are quite large. Not to speak of the political consequences of even attempting to do something like this, whether they succeed or not.

How many warheads does Pakistan have? How many missiles? How many silos? How many different locations?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:24:48 AM EST
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A few dozen to a few hundred warheads. Likely and probably not more than 300.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:35:21 AM EST
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Does that mean 300 missiles or, using MIRVs, maybe as little as 50 missiles?

We're talking about a massive operation to take them all out in any case.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:41:33 AM EST
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I would stick to the few dozens. And no silos, only a handful of truck-towed crappy med-range missiles, single headed, which they don't even trust to take off. They would rely on dropped bombs (from F16), that's what they will have in higher numbers, but I doubt it gets to a hundred.

Pierre
by Pierre on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Wikipedia (itself based on the bulletin of Atomic scientists 2001) Pakistan has 30-80 warheads.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 10:29:34 AM EST
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It would amaze me if this administration had any relevant contingency plans whatsoever.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 03:59:27 AM EST
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Why? That is its entire track record. They make shit up as they go along, and the shit usually comes from Bush' gut.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 04:31:27 AM EST
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That's exactly what I said.

They have no contingency plan and might very well just come up with some crazy shit right now as they go along.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 04:42:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah! I misread the comment.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 04:44:51 AM EST
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They are trying very hard to give the impression that they do, as a simple google search will tell you. Whether the plans they (probably) have are grounded in reality is another matter entirely.
by Trond Ove on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:11:57 AM EST
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"No plan survives first contact with the enemy" anyway.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 09:25:13 AM EST
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