The US army is training a crack unit to seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants, possibly from inside the country’s security apparatus, get their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one.
The specialised unit would be charged with recovering the nuclear materials and securing them.
The move follows growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s military, a series of attacks on sensitive installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight.
“What you have in Pakistan is nuclear weapons mixed with the highest density of extremists in the world, so we have a right to be concerned,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer who used to run the US energy department’s intelligence unit. “There have been attacks on army bases which stored nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations by terrorists into military facilities.”