NATO concern over Pakistan nuclear arsenal

Al Jazeera reports:

The head of NATO has admitted that the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is a matter of concern, the day after the worst assault on a Pakistani military base in two years.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen was speaking in Afghanistan on Tuesday, where he met Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, to discuss the transition of security from NATO-led troops to Afghan security forces, which is due to begin in July.

“Based on the information and intelligence we have, I feel confident that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe and well protected,” Rasmussen said. “But of course, it is a matter of concern and we follow the situation closely.”

Pakistani forces battled Taliban fighters for 17 hours before reclaiming control of a naval base in Karachi on Monday.

The attack, the worst on a base since the army headquarters was besieged in October 2009, piled further embarrassment on Pakistan three weeks after al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found living in the city of Abbottabad, close to the country’s military academy.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The team of Islamist militants knew exactly where the naval base’s weak spot was.

Dressed in black and armed with AK-47 rifles, grenades and rocket launchers, they crept up to the back wall of Mehran Naval Station in Karachi, keeping clear of security cameras. Then, with just a pair of ladders, they clambered over the wall, cutting through barbed wire at the top, to launch a 17-hour siege that would renew disturbing questions about the Pakistani military’s ability to defend sensitive installations, including its nuclear arsenal.

The team, believed to consist of four to six militants, destroyed two U.S.-supplied maritime surveillance aircraft and engaged security forces in hours of pitched firefights. It was not until late Monday afternoon that Pakistani forces regained full control of the facility.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said 10 Pakistani security personnel were killed and 15 were injured. Four militants died and two were believed to have escaped, he said.

The Pakistani Taliban, the country’s homegrown insurgency with ties to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was meant to avenge the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in the military city of Abbottabad.

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