No surprise. Iran, at least, is a modern state with proper chains of military command, notwithstanding their appetite for jihad. It’d be an international nightmare if they got the Bomb but it’s not impossible that they’d behave rationally. If the Taliban rolls into Islamabad and grabs Pakistan’s nukes, there’ll be nothing to check them except the whim of whichever cavemen warlords and remnants of the Pakistani military happen to possess the actual devices. Under the circumstances, it’s not hard to see why India might try a preemptive strike. Which means the success of a U.S. operation to grab the nukes first and disable them might be the only thing standing between that region and a nuclear exchange. Think happy thoughts.
JSOC is the military’s chief terrorists hunting squad and has units now operating in Afghanistan on Pakistan’s western border. But a secondary mission is to secure foreign nuclear arsenals — a role for which JSOC operatives have trained in Nevada…
“Small units could seize them, disable them and then centralize them in a secure location,” the source said…
What makes the Pakistan mission especially difficult is that the military has its missiles on Soviet-style mobile launchers and rail lines. U.S. intelligence agencies, using satellite photos and communication intercepts, is constantly monitoring their whereabouts. Other warheads are kept in storage. U.S. technical experts have visited Pakistan to advise the government on how to maintain and protect its arsenal.
Also, there are rogue elements inside Pakistan’s military and intelligence service who could quickly side with the extremists and make JSOC’s mission all the more difficult.
“Its relatively easy to track rail-mounted ones with satellites,” said the intelligence source. “Truck- mounted are more difficult. However, they are all relatively close to the capital in areas that the government firmly controls so we don’t have to look to far.”
It’s similar to a strike on Iran’s reactors, except in this case if it doesn’t work, you risk having boots on the ground stranded behind enemy lines. I raised this point in a previous post a few weeks ago but it’s worth asking again: Why would the Taliban want to take over Pakistan, exactly? Like Hezbollah, they’ve got a good thing going with their current arrangement as a state within a state. They get to plot attacks on Afghanistan and run things shari’a style in their part of the country, and meanwhile a secular-ish government remains in place to take care of mundane civic business. If they take over, not only does that mundane business become their business but they’re going to have a war with India (and America?) on their hands sooner rather than later. Better to just keep absorbing territory where they can and leave Islamabad alone as an insurance policy. Or am I giving them too much credit in thinking they might behave strategically?