Jihadis have already attacked Pakistan nuclear sites thrice !

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by K Factor, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. K Factor

    K Factor A Concerned Indian Senior Member

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    Jihadis thrice attacked Pakistan nuclear sites

    Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN 11 August 2009, 08:35am IST
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    WASHINGTON: Pakistan's nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in little reported incidents over the last two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts. ( Watch )

    The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan's nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan's main nuclear weapons assembly.

    These attacks have occurred even as Pakistan has taken several steps to secure and fortify its nuclear weapons against potential attacks, particularly by the United States and India, says Gregory.

    In fact, the attacks have received so little attention that Peter Bergen, the eminent terrorism expert who reviewed Gregory's paper first published in West Point's Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, said "he (Gregory) points out something that was news to me (and shouldn't have been) which is that a series of attacks on Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities have already happened."

    Pakistan insists that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of the extremists or terrorists.

    But Gregory, while detailing the steps Islamabad has taken to protect them against Indian and US attacks, asks if the geographical location of Pakistan's principle nuclear weapons infrastructure, which is mainly in areas dominated by al-Qaida and Taliban, makes it more vulnerable to internal attacks.

    Gregory points out that when Pakistan was developing its nuclear weapons infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, its principal concern was the risk that India would overrun its nuclear weapons facilities in an armored offensive if the facilities were placed close to the long Pakistan-India border.

    As a result, Pakistan, with a few exceptions, chose to locate much of its nuclear weapons infrastructure to the north and west of the country and to the region around Islamabad and Rawalpindi - sites such as Wah, Fatehjang, Golra Sharif, Kahuta, Sihala, Isa Khel Charma, Tarwanah, and Taxila. The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan's nuclear sites are close to or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants and home to al-Qaida.

    Detailing the actions taken by Islamabad to safeguard its nuclear assets from external attacks, Gregory writes that Pakistan has established a "robust set of measures to assure the security of its nuclear weapons." These have been based on copying US practices, procedures and technologies, and comprise: a) physical security; b) personnel reliability programs; c) technical and procedural safeguards; and d) deception and secrecy.

    In terms of physical security, Pakistan operates a layered concept of concentric tiers of armed forces personnel to guard nuclear weapons facilities, the use of physical barriers and intrusion detectors to secure nuclear weapons facilities, the physical separation of warhead cores from their detonation components, and the storage of the components in protected underground sites.

    With respect to personnel reliability, Gregory says the Pakistan Army conducts a tight selection process drawing almost exclusively on officers from Punjab Province who are considered to have fewer links with religious extremism (now increasingly a questionable premise) or with the Pashtun areas of Pakistan from which groups such as the Pakistani Taliban mainly garner their support.

    Pakistan operates an analog to the US Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) that screens individuals for Islamist sympathies, personality problems, drug use, inappropriate external affiliations, and sexual deviancy.

    The army uses staff rotation and also operates a "two-person" rule under which no action, decision, or activity involving a nuclear weapon can be undertaken by fewer than two persons. In total, between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals from the SPD's security division and from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau agencies are involved in the security clearance and monitoring of those with nuclear weapons duties.

    Gregory says despite formal command authority structures that cede a role to Pakistan’s civilian leadership, in practice the Pakistan Army has complete control over the country's nuclear weapons.

    It imposes its executive authority over the weapons through the use of an authenticating code system down through the command chains that is deployment sites, aspects of the nuclear command and control arrangements, and many aspects of the arrangements for nuclear safety and security (such as the numbers of those removed under personnel reliability programs, the reasons for their removal, and how often authenticating and enabling (PAL-type) codes are changed).

    In addition, Pakistan uses deception - such as dummy missiles - to complicate the calculus of adversaries and is likely to have extended this practice to its nuclear weapons infrastructure.

    Taken together, these measures provide confidence that the Pakistan Army can fully protect its nuclear weapons against the internal terrorist threat, against its main adversary India, and against the suggestion that its nuclear weapons could be either spirited out of the country by a third party (posited to be the United States) or destroyed in the event of a deteriorating situation or a state collapse in Pakistan, says Gregory.

    However, at another point, he says "despite these elaborate safeguards, empirical evidence points to a clear set of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Pakistan's nuclear safety and security arrangements."

    Jihadis thrice attacked Pakistan nuclear sites - Pakistan - World - NEWS - The Times of India
     
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  3. K Factor

    K Factor A Concerned Indian Senior Member

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    This is very alarming that they have managed to keep this quiet for so long. When will the world know that the Islamic bombs are in AQ/Taliban hands, maybe when one explodes in a major city in the world!
    Troubling news indeed ! :(
     
  4. Jeypore

    Jeypore Regular Member

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    Mr. Kommunist I disagree that the Taliban and AQ has any form of Nuclear armament at there displosal. If they did they would have used it already. There are also lots of safeguards in exploding a nuclear bomb and I personally think these throwbacks don't have the knowledge or the capability to do it.
     
  5. K Factor

    K Factor A Concerned Indian Senior Member

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    Mr.Jeypore, you have misunderstood my post, or I had not made myself clear.

    The point is that the first attack was in 2007 and has come to light only now. So, god-forbidding, if a nuke (I know they are kept in component form, but still) is stolen, who knows, maybe the Pakistan govt will suppress the news to hide its incompetency. The world may know when its too late.

    I'm not saying this has happened, but as a possible scenario.

    The earlier they are ridden of them the better (by anyone, Americans, Indians, Israelis, Chinese, for all I care).
     
  6. Antimony

    Antimony Regular Member

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    Kommunist,

    We discussed this on WAB with Col. OOE (you will agree with me about his expertise on this, I hope :) )

    His views were

    1. The Pakistani arsenal is kept disassembled and in separate locations. Not easy for someone to get their hands on a complete system. Even if they do it would not be easy to get it operational. I think he drew an analogy with Tom Clancy's "Sum of All Fears"
    2. In the event of any rising escalation, China would step in herself, with or without Pakistan's assent. China had planned opening a front with Indian during the 1986 showdown, with its 15th Airborne Corps, without informing Pakistan. There is little doubt that they would act again, since nukes in Talibani hands is not in their interest. Recall how Pakistan jumped when China asked them to crack down on Lal Masjid

    About the actual attacks, I think they were more on softer targets like school busses and personnel busses did not endanger the security of the actual military complex ion any way.
     
  7. K Factor

    K Factor A Concerned Indian Senior Member

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    Hi Antimony.
    I am aware of the Pakistani nukes being in component form and I have addressed that in my later post as well but we are armchair worriers right? :)
    But still, some fissile material for even a dirty bomb could be catastrophic.

    Also, with all due respect to the Colonel, I personally doubt China's willingness to step into the shit-pile to clean out the mess. China may not want to further alienate and anger the Islamic world.
     
  8. Jeypore

    Jeypore Regular Member

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    It has not happen based on Shaun Gregory interrogatories. He seems to sansationalise this one particular incident that is not required for. I have a hard time believing because he is not backing it by any facts. For example his reasonning is it is in close proximity to Taliban areas:

    I think a better argument would have been that 30% of the army are supporters of Talibans and roughly the same amounts are Pashtuns in the Pakistanie military. Nevertheless, the US gov't have made a official statement of Pakistan nuclear arsenal and facilities of being safe. Which is a very important statement because if it is not US would've have take step to do so.
     
  9. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    Pakistan's nuclear bases targeted by al-Qaeda

    Pakistan's nuclear weapon bases have been attacked by al-Qaeda and the Taliban at least three times in the last two years, it has emerged.

    The allegations, by a leading British expert on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, increased fears that terrorists could acquire a nuclear device or could trigger a nuclear disaster by bombing an atomic facility.

    In a paper for the respected anti-terrorism journal of America's West Point Military Academy, Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at Bradford University, detailed three attacks since November 2007 and raised the spectre of more incidents in the future.


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    Taliban target Britain on 'orders' from al-QaedaHe said militants had struck a nuclear storage facility at Sarghoda on Nov 1 2007; launched a suicide bomb assault on a nuclear air base at Kamra on Dec 10 2007; and set off explosions at entrance points to Wah cantonment, one of Pakistan's main nuclear assembly plants, in August 2008.

    These attacks had been launched despite an extensive security cordon around the facilities and millions of dollars in American technical aid to prevent militant infiltration.

    Dr Anupam Srivastava, director of the Centre for International Trade and Security at Georgia University, who has advised the US government on nuclear security issues, told The Daily Telegraph he believed there had been more than three attacks on Pakistan's nuclear facilities and the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants would intensify its assaults.

    The attack on Wah was reported at the time as the deadliest terrorist strike against Pakistan's armed forces, with 63 people killed in two suicide bombings. The target was referred to as a major conventional weapons and ammunition manufacturing factory, but according to Prof Gregory and other analysts it is in fact an assembly plant for nuclear warheads. "These sites are all identified by various authorities as nuclear weapons or related sites," he told The Daily Telegraph last night.

    Pakistan's nuclear weapons establishments are protected with heavily armed soldiers who patrol a wide security cordon, while inside state-of-the-art sensors guard against intruders. Employees are screened by vetting staff from its Strategic Plans Division security force and officials from its ISI intelligence service. Warheads, detonators and launch vehicles are stored separately to prevent them being seized together.

    But despite this "robust" security system, Prof Gregory said the facilities remain vulnerable because they are located in areas where "Taliban and al-Qaeda are more than capable of launching terrorist attacks".

    The three attacks they have already launched on nuclear sites proved their own intelligence capabilities, and highlighted the threat of three terror scenarios, he said.

    "An attack to cause a fire at a nuclear weapons facility, which would create a radiological hazard; an attack to cause an explosion at a nuclear weapons facility involving a nuclear weapon or components or an attack with the objective of seizing control of nuclear weapons components or possibly a nuclear weapon," he said.

    The potential for nuclear staff or soldiers with militant sympathies to collude in a Taliban or al-Qaeda attack was a cause for greater concern, he said. The army has been Islamicised in the past and has senior officers who are known to be anti-Western and anti-American. "No screening programme will ever be able to weed out all Islamist sympathisers or anti-Westerners among Pakistan's military or civilians with nuclear weapons expertise," he said.

    The risk of Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, components or expertise is "genuine", he said, and could only be countered by continuing Western pressure on and support to its government to monitor the threat.

    Dr Srivastava said he believed an increase in the number of attacks on nuclear facilities was inevitable because of the growing antagonism between the Pakistan military establishment and the militants it had previously supported. "Pakistan is at war with itself. They have created a Frankenstein and the intensity of attacks on these facilities will grow," he said.


    Pakistan's nuclear bases targeted by al-Qaeda - Telegraph
     
  10. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    already posted and these are not new attacks but news about old attacks happened on nuclear facilities.
     
  11. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  12. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  13. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  14. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  15. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  16. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    I am sure that there will be more coverage in the next few years, and we will update this story as news reports come in.

    My personal take .... I am not surprised. These Pakistani military installations have always been prime targets for Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists. My biggest concern has never been on a frontal attack on these installations .... fears have always been on the sympathizers within these installations who may be conducting themselves to assist these terror groups to get their hands on nuclear materials.

    Attacked SITE:[​IMG]
     
  17. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    old pic of the obove site


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  18. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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