The assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto reminds us starkly of an unanswered question most of us would prefer to forget: how secure are Pakistan’s nuclear weapons? Could Al Qaeda or another terrorist group acquire a warhead or enough radioactive material to create a dirty bomb?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to discuss the loose nukes issue with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf on three separate occasions. On each he insisted that there is no possibility that corrupt custodians or terrorists could steal the country’s nuclear weapons and materials. But in the third of these conversations, which occurred in December 2003, just a week after terrorists came within a second and a half of blowing him up, I managed to penetrate his standard defense. How plausible is it, I asked, that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is more secure than the president of the country himself? His answer: well, there you may have a point. [complete article]