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Pak N-weapons face threat from insiders

Pakistan’s atomic weapons face the threat from insiders in the nuclear establishment colluding with outsiders, as authorities there have “a dismal track record” in thwarting such dangers, a former top American intelligence official has warned.

world Updated: Jul 04, 2009 11:31 IST

Pakistan’s atomic weapons face the threat from insiders in the nuclear establishment colluding with outsiders, as authorities there have “a dismal track record” in thwarting such dangers, a former top American intelligence official has warned.

“The greatest threat of a loose nuke scenario stems from insiders in the nuclear establishment working with outsiders, people seeking a bomb or material to make a bomb”, said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who served as a CIA officer for 23 years.

“Nowhere in the world is this threat greater than in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities have a dismal track record in thwarting insider threats,” Mowatt-Larssen said in the July/August issue of Arms Control Today, published by the Arms Control Association.

He underlined that the network run by the father of the Pakistani bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, channeled sensitive nuclear technologies to Iran, Libya, and North Korea for years under the noses of the establishment before it was taken down in 2003, to the best of our knowledge.

The Umma-Tameer-e-Nau (UTN), founded by Pakistani nuclear scientists with close ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban, was headed by Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who had been in charge of Pakistan’s Khushab reactor.

“It is stunning to consider that two of the founding fathers of Pakistan’s weapons programme embarked independently on clandestine efforts to organize networks to sell their country’s most precious secrets for profit,” Mowatt-Larssen stressed.