President Barack Obama and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, will have a lot to talk about when Zardari visits the White House on Wednesday, what with al-Qaida and the Taliban stirring up trouble of late and sparking concerns over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
The New York Times:
For years the Pakistanis have waved away the recurring American concerns, with the head of nuclear security for the country, Gen. Khalid Kidwai, dismissing them as “overblown rhetoric.”
Americans who are experts on the Pakistani system worry about what they do not know. “For years I was concerned about the weapons materials in Pakistan, the materials in the laboratories,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who ran the Energy Department’s intelligence unit until January, and before that was a senior C.I.A. officer sent to Pakistan to determine whether nuclear technology had been passed to Osama bin Laden.
“I’m still worried about that, but with what we’re seeing, I’m growing more concerned about something going missing in transport,” said Mr. Mowatt-Larssen, who is now at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Several current officials said that they were worried that insurgents could try to provoke an incident that would prompt Pakistan to move the weapons, and perhaps use an insider with knowledge of the transportation schedule for weapons or materials to tip them off. That concern appeared to be what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was hinting at in testimony 10 days ago before the House Appropriations Committee. Pakistan’s weapons, she noted, “are widely dispersed in the country.”
AP photo / B.K. Bangash
A missile on its mobile launcher takes part in the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad in March 2005—just days before the country’s military announced it had successfully test-fired a short-range nuclear-capable missile.