Obama team's fears over Pakistan's n-arms

The Hindu, Sunday the 11th January, 2008

New York: The incoming Obama Administration's biggest fear from Pakistan is its nuclear arsenal falling into wrong hands, including through some groups which may try to provoke an Indo-Pak confrontation hoping that it would help them seize Islamabad's atomic arms, a media report said on Saturday.

By now Barack Obama has almost surely been briefed about an alarming stream of intelligence that began circulating early last year to the top tier of George W Bush's national-security leadership in Washington, The New York Times says in an article based on a new book dealing with the challenges before the President-elect.

The highly restricted reports described how foreign- trained Pakistani scientists, including some suspected of harbouring sympathy for radical Islamist causes, were returning to Pakistan to seek jobs within the country's nuclear infrastructure presumably trying to burrow in among the 2,000 or so people who have "critical knowledge" of the Pakistani nuclear infrastructure, it says.

One of the most senior officials in Bush administration, who had read all of the intelligence with care, is quoted as saying he had a worry - what happens "when they move the weapons."

He explained that the U.S. feared that some groups could try to provoke a confrontation with India in the hope that Pakistani military would transport tactical nuclear weapons closer to the front lines, where they would be more vulnerable to seizure.

"Indeed, when the deadly terror attacks occurred in Mumbai in late November, officials told me they feared that one of the attackers' motives might have been to trigger exactly that series of events," says the author of the book, David E Sarger, the paper's chief Washington correspondent. - PTI

Embassy of India Kabul, Afghanistan