US& UK alarmed over al Qaeda getting nuke material from Pak

US and UK were increasingly alarmed over the possibility that al Qaeda or its associates might get enough nuclear material from Pak`s nuclear facilities to make a crude atom bomb, leaked US diplomatic cables have revealed.

Last Updated: Dec 01, 2010, 15:45 PM IST

Berlin: US and UK were increasingly alarmed
over the possibility that al Qaeda or its associates might get
enough nuclear material from Pakistan`s nuclear facilities to
make a crude atom bomb, leaked US diplomatic cables have
revealed.

The latest batch of classified US diplomatic cables
published by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks also
revealed growing concern among American and British diplomats
over Pakistan building up its atomic weapons arsenal despite
economic hardships and political instability.

Excerpts of the cables were published by Der Spiegel, the
Guardian of London, the New York Times, French newspaper Le
Monde and Spanish daily El Pais.

Last Sunday, Wikileaks began releasing a selection of
over 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

Even though there have been previous warnings about the
possibility of nuclear material falling into the hands of
terrorist groups in Pakistan, the latest Wikileaks revelations
for the first time speak about a real danger of terrorist
groups getting hold of nuclear material in spite of the
Pakistani government`s assurance that its nuclear sites are
secure.

US and British diplomats are worried that al Qaeda or its
allies might try to get hold of nuclear material for an atom
bomb by attacking a nuclear facility, by staging ambush of
nuclear transports or by infiltrating the country?s nuclear
installations.

Former US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Pattrerson, in a
cable to the State Department on February 4, 2009, wrote that
"Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an
entire weapon, but rather the chance someone working in GOP
(Government of Pakistan) facilities cold gradually smuggle
enough material out to eventually make a weapon.

She was particularly worried about a stockpile of highly
enriched uranium kept for years near an ageing research rector
in Pakistan".

The stockpile had enough uranium to build several `dirty
bombs,` according to the correspondence published by the
Guardian.
On May 27, 2009, she wrote to Washington saying that the
Pakistan government was again refusing the US to remove the
material as agreed two years before.

The enriched uranium for the research reactor was
supplied by the United States in the mid-1960s.
Pakistan justified its refusal to return the fissile
material saying that "if the local media got word of the fuel
removal, they certainly would portray it as the US taking
Pakistan`s nuclear weapons away," the cables revealed.

Bureau Report