Pakistan is reinforcing protections around a primary nuclear site in the wake of indications it could be targeted by Taliban fighters in the region, the Express Tribune reported on Thursday.
Unidentified informed insiders said a nuclear complex not far from the city of Dera Ghazi Khan is at a "serious" risk of attack, with a four-fifths probability of an incident occurring.
The complex houses uranium extraction and milling operations as well as a uranium hexaflouride conversion plant. The installation performs fuel cycle activities for both military and nonmilitary purposes, according to a Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission official.
"D.G. Khan houses one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country, and has faced the first-ever serious security threat from" the Pakistani Taliban, said a senior army official posted at the site.
D.G. Khan District Police Officer Chaudhry Saleem verified a danger had been detected and said local police forces have received a military directive to enhance protections around the site to the highest reasonable degree.
Additional police officers and a strongly armed military unit have been sent to supplement the uranium installation's existing defenses. Additional troops have been assigned to intensify pressure on nonstate actors in the region, while others have been stationed at the boundary line with Balochistan, informed insiders said.
Pakistan's intelligence service is believed to have monitored a phone conversation from the Pakistani Taliban in which speakers said they were wrapping up plans for assaults on atomic sites in Dera Ghazi Khan. Three or four automobiles filled with men armed with explosives are primed to enter the city and can attack the atomic facilities at a time of their choosing, one of the speakers reportedly said.
There is a track record for Pakistani Taliban attacks occurring within three days after their details have been learned through phone conversation eavesdropping, according to sources.
Several weeks ago, the Pakistani Taliban attacked the Minhas air force base in Punjab. The site has been rumored to house nuclear weapons. It took several hours for Pakistani authorities to suppress the attackers, who were said to have been well-informed of the layout of the base. The Taliban said the attack was revenge for recent Pakistani military crackdowns on the extremist organization.