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State Dept. Says Pakistani Nukes Are Secure

A senior U.S. State Department official on Tuesday said Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is not in jeopardy of diversion by extremists, even as recent events have raised fresh concerns over the the South Asian state's ability to safeguard its nuclear assets, the Indian Express reported (see GSN, June 17).

"We don't think there is any renewed concern ... those assets remain under much tighter security than what we saw in Pakistan's naval base," said Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, referencing last month's Taliban siege of an installation in Karachi (see GSN, June 14).

Blake's remarks during a trip to India sounded more confident than comments offered last week by outgoing U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, who told reporters, "Those things that I fear in the future," include "the proliferation of that [Pakistani nuclear-weapon] technology, and it's the opportunity and the potential that it could fall into the hands of terrorists" (Indian Express, June 21).

Meanwhile, a high-ranking Pakistani army officer has been taken into custody over accusations of ties with local militants, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The arrest of Brig. Ali Khan elevates worries about the penetration of individuals with extremist loyalties into the senior levels of the Pakistani military. Though some enlisted personnel in the navy, air force and army have recognized sympathies to the Taliban and other local militant groups, the brigadier's detention marks the first such case involving a senior military officer.

Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said Khan was taken into custody due to ties with a prohibited organization, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, that is bent on achieving a worldwide Islamic theocracy. The group asserts it does not use violence to achieve its goals (Salman Masood, New York Times, June 21).

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Country Profile

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Pakistan

This article provides an overview of Pakistan’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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