US trains crack unit to seal off Pak N-facilities

Last Updated: Sunday, January 17, 2010 - 20:58

London: Alarmed by a slew of terror attacks on sensitive military installations in Pakistan, the US is training "a crack unit" of elite troops to seal off that country`s nuclear weapons and snatch them back if they fall into the hands of militants or rogue elements in the security
apparatus, a media report claimed on Sunday.

The US army is training the crack unit so that it could seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event of militants, "possibly from inside the country`s security apparatus," getting their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one, `The Sunday Times` reported.

It said the specialised unit would be charged with recovering the nuclear materials and securing them.

"The move follows a series of attacks on sensitive military installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by the US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight," the report said.

Reacting sharply to the report Pakistan rubbished it as "a figment of the imagination".

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit termed the insinuations as baseless and said: "We are very much confident about our nuclear weapons capability and our custodial controls".

Basit said Pakistan government had devised and implemented a foolproof safety and security regime for its nuclear arsenal and related materials.

Pakistan is thought to possess about 80 nuclear warheads.

"There have been attacks on army bases which stored
nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations
by terrorists into military facilities," the Times had said.

Citing Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer who used
to run the US energy department`s intelligence unit, it said:
"What you have in Pakistan is nuclear weapons mixed with the
highest density of extremists in the world, so we have a right
to be concerned."

Although the weapons are well guarded, the fear is that
materials or processes to enrich uranium could fall into the
wrong hands.

"All it needs is someone in Pakistan within the nuclear
establishment and in a position of key access to become
radicalised," said Mowatt-Larssen. "This is not just
theoretical. It did happen - Pakistan has had inside problems
before."

PTI



First Published: Sunday, January 17, 2010 - 20:58

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