Where does Pakistan keep its nuclear weapons

Especially because of the war in Afghanistan and the support for the Taliban by parts of the Pakistani population, the security of Pakistani nuclear weapons is of great concern to the world. The nuclear warheads do not have an electronic code security system for sharpening the warheads (PAL), as is known from the US and Russian nuclear weapons. However, Lieutenant-General Kidwai, head of the Pakistani Strategic Planning Division, claimed in May 2006 that "similar controls" had been built into the weapons. Two or three people would have to confirm the start codes before a weapon can be armed. In February 2008 he confirmed that more security had been established in all nuclear facilities for the production of nuclear weapons, weapons and in the command structure through "modern technology" and improved controls of the personnel. In "times of peace" the uranium fissile material should not be installed in the warheads, the bomb casing and fissile material should be stored in two separate locations. In fact, this minimum protection can be lifted in a short time.

Despite all the measures, there are more headaches about the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal than any other nuclear weapon state. The most likely horror scenario is an “insider” working with a terrorist group. For example, several Pakistani scientists have been accused of having disclosed nuclear secrets and nuclear material to terrorists. Two senior scientists who used to work in the PAEC were arrested and interrogated about their links with Al Qaeda. Both are experts in plutonium technology and both reportedly sympathize with the Taliban.

A second scenario is an attack by the Taliban on a nuclear facility or even the diversion of components from a nuclear weapon. The separate storage of explosive charges and carrier systems helps to prevent accidental nuclear war, but it makes theft easier. If the weapons are stored unassembled - i.e. in separate parts - there is an increased risk that unauthorized people can get to these parts. If the nuclear weapon components are then transported to each other during a crisis, the risk of theft on the way is much greater than if they remained in a well-guarded warehouse.

In late 2007 and early 2008, fears about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal peaked. In November 2007, Benazir Bhutto questioned the president's control over nuclear weapons in Pakistan because of the country's instability. In the US, too, some experts and military officials argued that the command structures between the military commander in chief, the prime minister and the president in Pakistan are not stable. The head of the IAEA Mohamed El Baradei expressed concern that radicals could seize power in Pakistan and thus acquire nuclear weapons. The New Yorker and Times of India magazines reported on plans by the CIA and US forces to disable Pakistan's nuclear weapons if the regime in Pakistan collapsed.

Still, the intelligence services seemed to have a different picture. Former US Vice Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Richard Armitage said in an interview in November 2007 that it was unlikely that the US would intervene militarily in a crisis in Pakistan because “we spent a lot of time with the Pakistani military, talked to them and attended to Security their nuclear weapons have worked. I think most observers would say they are relatively safe. They have quite sophisticated mechanisms to protect their security ”. In December 2008, a Pentagon spokesman said there was "currently no need to worry about the security" of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. (XH)

Processing status: December 2008