Barbara Plett / BBC News & New York Times – 2008-01-30 23:43:43
Pakistan Nuclear Sites on Alert
Barbara Plett / BBC News
ISLAMABAD (January 28, 2008) — Pakistan has raised the state of alert around its nuclear facilities amid concerns they could be targeted by Islamist militants.
But a senior Pakistan military official said there had been no specific threat to the sites, and insisted that safeguards in place were fool proof.
The official was speaking in a rare press briefing on the issue.
It followed Western media reports warning that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.
The Pakistani authorities have been angered by Western media reports speculating that the country?s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda militants.
The senior military official briefing foreign journalists said that the weapons were protected by an elaborate command and control system, and multiple levels of security.
He acknowledged that Islamic militants had begun to attack army personnel in recent months, and that nuclear sites may also become a target.
He said the state of alert around nuclear facilities had increased, but there had been no specific threats against them.
The official said there was no way the Taleban or al-Qaeda could take over Pakistan?s estimated 50 nuclear warheads.
And he dismissed the possibility of collusion from within the system, saying all personnel dealing with sensitive material had been carefully monitored.
Despite fears raised by US media and politicians, the official said the US administration had not shown any recent concern about the safety of Pakistan?s nuclear weapons.
He also said any foreign intervention over the issue would be disastrous for the intruder.
© BBC MMVIII
Pakistan Spurns Broader US Combat Presence
New York Times
Pakistan has rejected a bid by the top two US intelligence officials to win more access for the CIA in tribal areas where Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militants are active, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Citing unnamed officials briefed on the secret visit January 9 by Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, and General Michael Hayden, the CIA director, the Times said Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf “rebuffed proposals to expand any American combat presence in Pakistan, either through unilateral covert CIA missions or by joint operations with Pakistani security forces.”
“Instead, Pakistan and the United States are discussing a series of other joint efforts, including increasing the number and scope of missions by armed Predator surveillance aircraft over the tribal areas, and identifying ways that the United States can speed information about people suspected of being militants to Pakistani security forces,” the report said.
US and Pakistani officials have questioned each other in recent months about the quality and time lines of information the United States gave Pakistan to zero in on militants.
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