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Elite US force to counter Pak nuke hijacks: Report

world Updated: Jan 18, 2010 01:28 IST
US army

The US army is training a crack unit “to seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants, possibly from inside the country’s security apparatus, get their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one”, a media report said on Sunday.

Islamabad, however, termed it “outlandish”.

The specialised unit would be charged with recovering the nuclear materials and securing them, Times Online said.

“The move follows growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s military, a series of attacks on sensitive installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight,” Times said.

When the attention of a Pakistan foreign office spokesman in Islamabad was drawn to the report, he dismissed it as the “outlandish musings by an academic”.

Online news agency quoted the spokesman as telling a private TV channel that the report was part of a “conspiracy” against Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s nukes are safe and neither the militants nor any other group was capable enough to take over our atomic assets,” the spokesman added.

He also rejected the suggestion that there was any danger of Pakistan’s strategic assets falling into the wrong hands.

Times Online quoted Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer who used to run the US energy department’s intelligence unit, as saying: “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.”

“There have been attacks on army bases which stored nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations by terrorists into military facilities,” he added.

Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan security research unit at Bradford University, has tracked a number of attempted security breaches since 2007. “The terrorists are at the gates,” he warned.