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'Pakistan may let Taliban use its nuclear weapons against India'

Pakistan may let surrogate Taliban use its nuclear weapons to do its "dirty work" against India in the event of escalation of tension between the two South Asian neighbours over Kashmir, a top US non-proliferation expert has suggested.

world Updated: Apr 23, 2010 19:38 IST

Pakistan may let surrogate Taliban use its nuclear weapons to do its "dirty work" against India in the event of escalation of tension between the two South Asian neighbours over Kashmir, a top US non-proliferation expert has suggested.

Bob Graham, head of US Commission on the Prevention of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) proliferation and terrorism painted such a scenario at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on nuclear terrorism on Thursday.

"If something broke out in Kashmir that reignited the vitriol between India and Pakistan, that could be an incident that could cause someone to make the decision," he warned

"(The Pakistanis may say) We don't want to use these weapons, but we're going to let our surrogate Taliban have access to these weapons and they'll do our dirty work," he said.

"I think one of our recommendations was to work with India and Pakistan to develop some fail-safe procedures," Graham said responding to questions from lawmakers concerned about the safety and security of nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

Although during the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union were strong adversaries and had the capability of destroying each other, "we understood that we didn't want to allow a mis-step or an accidental event to become the ignition for such a war", Graham said.

"So we set up the red phone in the Oval Office and a whole protocol," he said referring to the report of the commission released early this year.

Noting that "none of that exists between India and Pakistan", he said: "I have felt that this may be an area in which the US and Russia together, since we developed these protocols for our own benefit and the world's benefit, might work together with India and Pakistan to try to get them to develop."

Graham said he was encouraged that within the last month India and China have started to develop some of those fail-safe procedures.

"But there's almost nothing that has been done in a similar vein between the real adversaries, which are India and Pakistan," he noted.