Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Most troubling paragraph of the week: Pak nukes are getting looser with time

"A frontal assault of this kind on nuclear weapons storage facilities, which are the most robustly defended elements of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons cycle, is no longer an implausible event. The successful location and penetration of such a site by terrorists, even if they were ultimately unsuccessful in accessing nuclear assets, would itself be a transformative ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

"A frontal assault of this kind on nuclear weapons storage facilities, which are the most robustly defended elements of Pakistan's nuclear weapons cycle, is no longer an implausible event. The successful location and penetration of such a site by terrorists, even if they were ultimately unsuccessful in accessing nuclear assets, would itself be a transformative event both in terms of the U.S.-Pakistani nuclear relationship and in terms of international anxiety about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Such an assault would also critically undermine Pakistan's reassurances about the security of nuclear weapons elsewhere in the weapons cycle, particularly in transit. As the number of Pakistani nuclear weapons inexorably continues to rise, and as the nuclear weapons security challenges thereby steadily multiply, the odds that Pakistan's nuclear weapons security will eventually be compromised continue to rise."--

Professor Shaun Gregory, Director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford, Britain, in the new issue of West Point's CTC Sentinel.

My italics, just to help scare you more.

"A frontal assault of this kind on nuclear weapons storage facilities, which are the most robustly defended elements of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons cycle, is no longer an implausible event. The successful location and penetration of such a site by terrorists, even if they were ultimately unsuccessful in accessing nuclear assets, would itself be a transformative event both in terms of the U.S.-Pakistani nuclear relationship and in terms of international anxiety about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Such an assault would also critically undermine Pakistan’s reassurances about the security of nuclear weapons elsewhere in the weapons cycle, particularly in transit. As the number of Pakistani nuclear weapons inexorably continues to rise, and as the nuclear weapons security challenges thereby steadily multiply, the odds that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons security will eventually be compromised continue to rise."–

Professor Shaun Gregory, Director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford, Britain, in the new issue of West Point’s CTC Sentinel.

My italics, just to help scare you more.

I think this is a good contender for the title of Biggest Problem in the World. Speaking of which, a new book just arrived in the mail from the Naval Institute Press, Confronting al Qaeda: New Strategies to Combat Terrorism, by Kevin McGrath. It looks interesting, especially the chapter on Pakistan, but I don’t know when I am gonna get to it as I have developed a huge reading backlog.   

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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