Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues [Updated April 1, 2009]   [open pdf - 178KB]

This report addresses the instability in Pakistan as an issue of the security of the country's nuclear weapons. "U.S. military commanders continue to be concerned about the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons in a destabilized Pakistan. General David H. Petraeus, Commander, U.S. Central Command, testified March 31, 2009, that 'Pakistani state failure would provide transnational terrorist groups and other extremist organizations an opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons and a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks.' […] Pakistani efforts to improve the security of the country's nuclear weapons have been on-going and include some cooperation with the United States. Since the 1998 Pakistani and Indian nuclear tests, the international community has increased attention to reducing the risk of nuclear war in South Asia. The two countries most recently came to the brink of full-scale war in 1999 and 2002, and, realizing the dangers, have developed some risk reduction measures to prevent accidental nuclear war. Islamabad has also developed its command and control systems and improved security of military and civilian nuclear facilities. Since the 2004 revelations of an extensive international nuclear proliferation network run by Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan, as well as possible connections between Pakistani nuclear scientists and Al Qaeda, Islamabad has made additional efforts to improve export controls and monitor nuclear personnel. The main security challenges for Pakistan's nuclear arsenal are keeping the integrity of the command structure, ensuring physical security, and preventing illicit proliferation from insiders."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34248
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