Pakistani Nuke Security: US Special Forces on Stand-By
US Spcial Forces from the NEST team are understandably on stand-by to respond and secure or destroy Pakistani nuclear weapons if Musharraf falls to an Islamist coup.
US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
The troops, augmented by volunteer scientists from America's Nuclear Emergency Search Team organisation, are under orders to take control of an estimated 60 warheads dispersed around six to 10 high-security Pakistani military bases.
Military sources say contingency plans have been reviewed over the past three days to prevent any of Pakistan's atomic weapons falling into the hands of Islamic extremists if the administration of President Pervez Musharraf appears threatened by civil unrest.Some of the special forces are already believed to be in neighbouring Afghanistan and on alert for the mission. It is also understood that satellite surveillance of Pakistan has been stepped up to keep track of the possible movement of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.
Should their deployment into action be required, the NEST teams will surely have no welcoming committee regardless of whose forces (and loyalties) are in place at any of the facilities in question.
Regardless, Pakistan's nuclear weapons - and their tight security - are the gravest concern for the United States. As al-Qaeda's insurgency in Pakistan continues to grow and gather steam while Musharraf appears ever weaker, the American sense of crisis grows.
Nothing is more dangerous than an al-Qaeda terrorist network with nuclear weapons. It is one which includes sympathizers (if not members) within Pakistan's military and intelligence.
Risk = Consequences x Likelihood
The consequences are fixed and grave. And as the likelihood increases, the level of true risk increases multiple-fold. As such, the risk must be treated with the utmost gravity by those best prepared to intervene.