NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Pakistan: The Next Rogue Nuclear Nation?

April 18, 2003

Since the September 11 attacks, the United States has led efforts to destroy the terrorist movement led by al-Qaeda and to defuse the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks. Although the United States has touted Pakistan as a "frontline ally" in the war on terrorism, the Pakistani government continues to support terrorist movements affiliated with al-Qaeda and has also played a significant role in advancing North Korea's nuclear program, according to a new Cato Institute report.

Pakistan, the report says, is potentially a greater source of danger than any of the "axis of evil" nations:

  • There are questions about whether President Pervez Musharraf has full control over his military and intelligence apparatus as well as his nuclear arsenal.
  • Sections of its military and intelligence wings have facilitated the escape and regrouping of al-Qaeda.
  • The Pakistani member groups of the International Islamic Front that collaborate with al-Qaeda continue to be well funded and active.

The report also states Islamic extremist that still support the Taliban, as well as pro-Islamic military leaders, are waiting in the wings to dethrone Musharraf and take over the nation's rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal.

  • Pakistan is reported to have about 4 dozen nuclear weapons.
  • High-level Pakistani nuclear scientists have had meetings with Osama Bin Laden.
  • Furthermore, Pakistan has been selling its nuclear weapons technology to North Korea, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia.

U.S. policy toward Pakistan has failed to consider the cumulative dangers that nation presents, claims the report. The United States must develop contingency plans for securing and extracting the Pakistani nuclear arsenal in case of an Islamist coup. And if Musharraf does not have full control over his expanding nuclear assets, then the world may be dealing with a nuclear rogue nation.

Source: Subodh Atal, "Extremist, Nuclear Pakistan An Emerging Threat?" Policy Analysis No. 472, March 5, 2003, Cato Institute.

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