James Forsyth

The nuclear worry

The nuclear worry
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I’m becoming increasingly convinced that in a year to 18 months time, we’ll come to view the global situation as even more alarming than the economic one. Arguably, the greatest cause for concern is Pakistan. (I still, though, tend to view Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the greatest potential threat.) In Pakistan, almost every concern of the post 9/11 world comes together: a weak to failing state, an Islamist insurgency, nuclear weapons, a security service compromised by its links to militants and terrorists seeking a base of operations.

Everyone in the West talks earnestly about the need to strengthen the Pakistani state. But there are few concrete and practical ideas of how to do this. So, instead we are left trying to muddle through. Karen DeYoung sums up the situation well in The Washington Post:

“The United States is fighting Pakistan-based extremists by proxy, through an army over which it has little control, in alliance with a government in which it has little confidence.”

The one reassuring aspect to the Pakistan situation to date has been the idea that the nuclear weapons are relatively secure. But the New York Times has an important story today on how the Obama administration’s concerns on this front are rising. As the paper reports:

“The Obama administration inherited from President Bush a multiyear, $100 million secret American program to help Pakistan build stronger physical protections around some of those facilities, and to train Pakistanis in nuclear security.

But much of that effort has now petered out, and American officials have never been permitted to see how much of the money was spent, the facilities where the weapons are kept or even a tally of how many Pakistan has produced”

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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