US war game mulls options for securing Pak N-stockpile
Washington (PTI): Amidst concerns that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal may fall into hands of non-state actors, a classified war game in the US has concluded that "there are no palatable ways to forcibly ensure the security of Islamabad's nuclear weapons."
The classified war game by US military experts and intelligence officials in Washington explored strategies for securing Pakistan's nuclear arsenal if the country's political institutions and military safeguards began to fall apart.
"The conclusion of last year's game was that there are no palatable ways to forcibly ensure the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons -- and that even studying scenarios for intervention could worsen the risks by undermining US-Pakistani cooperation," said a former Pentagon official on condition of anonymity.
"It's an unbelievably daunting problem," said this participant in the secret exercise, conducted without official sponsorship from any government agency apparently due to the sensitivity of its subject. The contingency plans that do exist, he added, are at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, and are in "very close hold," he said.
Even so, planners really haven't developed answers for how to deal with nuclear weapons stashed in Pakistan's big cities and high mountain ranges, he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post in a report on Sunday.
The report said the secret exercise was one of several such games the US government has conducted in recent years examining various options and scenarios for Pakistan's nuclear weapons: How many troops might be required for a military intervention in Pakistan? Could Pakistani nuclear bunkers be isolated by saturating the surrounding areas with tens of thousands of high-powered mines, dropped from the air and packed with anti-tank and anti-personnel munitions? Or might such a move only worsen the security of its arsenal?