The Pentagon, seeking to bolster Pakistan's government in its fight against Al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban forces, expressed satisfaction with security at the nuclear facilities in Pakistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are “comfortable with the security measures the Pakistani government, the military have in place to ensure that their nuclear arsenal is safeguarded," said press secretary Geoff Morrell.
The statement came after a write-up raised doubts about the nuclear facilites in Pakistan. “Pakistan's nuclear facilities have come under attack from the Taliban and other groups and there is a “genuine” risk militants could seize weapons or bomb-making material,” an article published in a West Point think-tank newsletter said.
The Combating Terrorism Center, which is housed at the US Military Academy at West Point, published the article in the July edition of its Sentinel newsletter, copies of which were distributed widely on Tuesday.
The center said the views expressed in the article were those of the author, and not those of West Point, the Army or the Defense Department.
Written by Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford in Britain, the article detailed three attacks against Pakistan's nuclear facilities, and warned that sites in the country may be vulnerable to infiltration.
"The risk of the transfer of nuclear weapons, weapons components or nuclear expertise to terrorists in Pakistan is genuine," the article said.
"The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan's nuclear sites are close or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants" and Al-Qaeda, Gregory said.
US officials,however, say Washington has taken steps to mitigate the risks like checking containers leaving from key ports for radioactive materials inside Pakistan.