Pakistan’s nuclear weapons vulnerable to theft, alleges report

Published: November 5, 2011

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has begun moving its nuclear weapons in low-security vans on congested roads to hide them from US spy agencies, making the weapons more vulnerable to theft by militants, two US magazines reported on Friday.

The Atlantic and the National Journal, in a joint report citing unnamed sources, wrote that the US raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May at his compound in Abbottabad reinforced Islamabad’s long-standing fears that Washington could try to dismantle the country’s nuclear arsenal.

As a result, the head of the Strategic Plans Divisions (SPD), which is charged with safeguarding Pakistan’s atomic weapons, was ordered to take action to keep the location of nuclear weapons and components hidden from the US, the report said.

Khalid Kidwai, the retired general who leads the SPD, expanded his agency’s efforts to disperse components and sensitive materials to different facilities, it said.

But instead of transporting the nuclear parts in armored, well-defended convoys, the atomic bombs “capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads,” according to the report. The pace of the dispersal movements has increased, raising concerns at the Pentagon, it said.

The article quotes an unnamed official from the Inter-Services Intelligence agency saying: “Of all things in the world to worry about, the issue you should worry about the least is the safety of our nuclear program.”

The Pentagon declined to comment on the article but a senior US military official told reporters in Washington on Friday that the US remains confident Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are secure.

“I believe the Pakistan military arsenal is safe at this time, well guarded, well defended,” said the military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The article, based on dozens of interviews, said the US military has long had a contingency plan in place to disable Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in the event of a coup or other worst-case scenario.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th,  2011.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (69)

  • Sohaib
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:34AM

    Sheer madness. Trust me its their frustration of not getting hold of information about our nuclear warheads. OBLs game everyone knows. Saddam and Gaddhafis deaths were publicized while OBL was thrown into sea. This is not a game of Lego.


  • Cautious
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:35AM

    This is so idiotic that it maybe true.


  • Aurangzeb
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:35AM

    what about US missing nukes, which poses threat to people till this day.


  • stevenson
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:42AM

    Sounds to me like the ongoing game of trying to defame Pakistan by odious forces in foreign newspapers. Sorry don’t buy it guys. We all know that Pakistan’s defence forces keep a close eye on assets which are for defensive needs.Recommend

  • Tahir
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:44AM

    Yes these 2 magazines have agents in Pakistan that obtained info on our nukes whereabouts. Highly believable. Not. ET please don’t publish this type of stuff as main headline.


  • Taha Ali
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:44AM

    what i can say about the WASHINGTON, i can only laugh on them.


  • Mj
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:45AM

    Dear Army,
    We still have not forgotten the Ojhri Camp incident. Please do not put lives of millions at risk. Sometimes things that can go wrong will go wrong.

    Concerned Citizens of Pakistan.


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 12:46AM

    Hollywood script writers .. please get your next script from the article above ..


  • faraz
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:50AM

    A commando raid to snatch atom bombs is complete non-sense. Special operations look easy in Delta force video game; in reality they hardly succeed. Osama raid succeeded because there was a single armed guard; it would have been a different matter if Osama had a dozen guards and a secret escape route.

    Denuclearization can occur if severe economic sanctions result in mass starvation and death, and the state willfully hands over the bomb in return for food and aid. Or if state fragments and doubts over safety of nuclear weapons force world powers including China to demand access to the bombs. But these scenarios are too far-fetched.


  • Umer
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:53AM

    I think America has FINALLY lost it!


  • Kamal
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Isn’t it ever so convenient to hear such things from ‘ a source ‘…

    I guess they heard something similar about Iraq’s WMDs and guess what 10 years down the lane they haven’t even found a damn firecracker.


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 1:06AM

    English Nuclear caravan was once lost in Scotland while transporting. Atleast we know where we’re heading.

    And…..the best of all, America’s freedom of information act made the american’s tell everyone how they transport it. No big deal.


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 1:07AM

    Americans call it BS. So We do too.Recommend

  • menteliscio
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:09AM

    If you read history, similar measures have helped CIA too.


  • Reasonable
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:10AM

    Such mindless folk. Tch!

    Anyone who knows a teensiest bit about nukes wouldn’t say this. An active nuke is made up of three components i.e. the nuclear fuel rod, the bomb and the trigger. No nuclear capable country keeps its bombs and triggers and together so as to avoid any hasty moves at lower levels. Ultimate secrecy is maintained as to the location and operation details of such devices. And therefore if by any miracle an illiterate caveman manages to get hands on both a bomb and a trigger mechanism; he’d still need a goddamn engineer to put them together; an F16 plane for delivery; and about a 1000 top tier staffers involved to deliver it undetected.

    I expected better from the baboons at the White House!Recommend

  • pinky
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:19AM

    yeah, i saw a suspicious van yesterday, black windows, masked men with 3 silver containers roaming about the city..and when they came near me, my geiger counter started beeping…


  • Zaki
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:21AM

    hilarious….. ask them what they are calling nuclear weapons….. how stupid they can get.


  • Imran Mohammad
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:21AM

    I think Americans are living in more fictional world these days than a real one. Hollywood has messed up their minds.


  • American Desi
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:23AM

    Pakistan establishment is least concerned about the civilian population, otherwise they would have reigned in the Jihadis and Sectarian outfits. Civilian casualties may be considered acceptable on the road Caliphate! Now, transportation of dangerous materials in urban congested areas! What a basket case Pakistan has been turned into! I pity the people who have to endure these strategic depth driven policies of Khakis, within Pakistan as well as in the neighborhood! It looks like by the time Caliphate is achieved, poor Caliph will be left to rule only himself!


  • Ali
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:23AM

    I see a nuclear detonation in Pakistan which will be blamed on Pak army for landing these bombs in the hands of ‘extremist’. This will be a setup by the CIA/Pentagon.


  • pinky
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:26AM

    next i saw them the van had a flat tire & it had bumped into another vehicle on the “congested road”,
    infinitesimally small yellowish-green vapours began leaking—-

    what?? i thought it was a dumb story contest..i won, right? :P


  • Nadeem Chaudhry
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:29AM

    our message to the world should be simple that all the countries in the world including pakistan, india, china, usa, uk, france, isreal should devise a startegy to dispose all nuclear weapons from the face of this earth and save our precious home EARTH from inevitable destruction from these deadly devices and make our world nuclear free from all nuclear weapons…..GOD SAVE HUMANITY…….


  • Adeel759
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:33AM

    To all the deniers, what if, what if it is true?. If it is true, its mind boggling and if its just a smear campaign then, keep it coming. But deep in heat, I can expect from SPD to come up with such a dangerouse yet “Jatka” made-in-pakistan security plan. And it is conceivable that in case of a JSOC operation to dismantle or take-out the nuclear warheads, closest friends as China, would only publicly issue a statement of condemnation but nothing more than that, and will tell pakistan to live under new realities.


  • Mirza
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:35AM

    @Mj: You are onto something here. However, let us deny it like the Ojhri Camp, Mehran Base and the presence of OBL in the heart of our army base. The abject surrender of one lackh army in East Pakistan was wrong, Pakistani cricketers were selling the games was wrong, Ajmal Qasab was not even a Pakistani and we denied it for a long time. Let us think for a moment instead of US army if Paksitani army and police were in Iraq how many WMD they would have discovered by now? How can we blindly dismiss all the news without full analysis? I am not saying what is the truth but it is the truth that is the first casulty in Pakistan.


  • Roflcopter
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:36AM

    US desperation is showing.


  • Mj
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:48AM

    I would suggest readers to keep in mind that nuclear weapons are not set ready for deployment, and that they are stored as components or modules under mostly 3-layers of checks and balances. So if your are imagining that the Army is transporting huge missiles on 18-wheelers then you may have the wrong idea.


  • amused paki
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:53AM

    Don’t know if I should laugh or cry on this news. It’s too bizzare, too out there, too dangerous, too whacky……..Sounds like we are hauling nuclear bombs like a sabziwala would haul his tarbuz and kharbuzas. We have finally outdone ourselves in the bizzaro world…


  • justice to be done
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:07AM

    unknown sources, reliable sources, etc … yes they can build fatal cases on these assumptions and can attack any country – as they did in iraq and afghnistan b4. idiots.


  • Parvez+Mahmud
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:08AM

    Vans not, yellow cabs much better.


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 2:14AM

    It would be serious negligence if Pakistani leadership disregard The United State’s hidden policy regarding the Pakistan’s nuclear assets constructive capability.
    Second American fear the nuclear weapons may be stolen because extremists wondering around and trying their best to occupation but they still failed and hope would remained fail but chances are persist can not be overlooked.

    as for as changing the place of nuclear arsenal reveals that there is some significant change has been appeared which may create some unexpected circumstances.

    Army commanders and the leaders have some reservations regard the security of American and NATO forces in Afghan territory..

    What Pakistan doing,common mind compelled to feel in view of political and strategic scenario.
    On the other hand,Tallban are not come across the negotiation table they have some preconditions unacceptable for the single super power,it mean thunderous cloud of war is covering the region day by day.God bless us all.


  • Arsalan Ahmad
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:14AM

    it just shows how creative and daring we are…and a bit crack too


  • Hamid
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:27AM

    The American Media publishes anything that would earn them some bucks. They are fond of fairy tales, this is one of them. Pakistan has world’s best nuclear arsenal and no one can tell where they are and how they are moved, if really they are moved at all.


  • MarkH
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:36AM

    Not really. The US has more than one security precaution beyond location. There are also codes that are required to activate them.


  • Soho
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:36AM

    Think people, think! What would America do with 100+ nukes when they already have 1000’s of their own that are more deadly n sophisticated than ours(Pakistans). The issue here is our nukes getting in hands of extremists. Can you imagine? America can be very wrong, evil, cruel etc etc. But they definitely have a point. Blaming America is not going to solve our problems- created by our people for us! u


  • Javed
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:40AM

    Nobody seems to be commenting on the last paragraph of the article.


  • Cynical
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:44AM

    Everything is in the realm of possibility, it’s Pakistan.
    So hope for the best and prepare for the worst.


  • M. S. Shahid
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:52AM

    I think Hollywood’s directors would have been planning to make movie in order to defame Pakistan. and these two journals theft their story and now they are trying to giving the color of reality. SPD and its security force is strongly capable to counter any threat in both perspectives i.e. internal security and external security.


  • Ahmed
    Nov 5, 2011 - 3:00AM

    as if they r being transported in ‘ready-to-fire’ state. these american papers (mouthpiece of their congressmen) are best at creatin hype at every little thing.

    and if they r so concerned about the security of our arsenal while they also know that they are being trasported in such a manner only to keep them invisible from american/indian etc intelligence eyes, then let them simply withdraw their agents which r busy followin them to every place.


  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Nov 5, 2011 - 3:06AM

    They are right! it was my neighbors mistake the fool a few a days ago tried to transport some atom bombs that he had been keeping in a rented warehouse, at the back of old SABZI MANDI, to MANORA, and in the process some American spies, as tourists, observed everything and immediately reported to USA.,fortunately ,they couldn’t see the deadly missiles,that were on a camel cart, hired from JORIYA BAZAAR ,shrouded by coffin cloth.Later after a physical check,inventory found OK.


  • NoSpinFacts
    Nov 5, 2011 - 3:49AM

    The problem is that American foreign policy is run under the influence of AIPAC. Pakistan is not a threat to Israel and especially not the United States. The country, excluding non-state loony actors with no capabilities, poses no threat to the United States. Pakistan’s nuclear assets have the best command and control structure vetted by the IAEA. The paranoid AIPAC members and their (unpatriotic – to the US) Media, Congress, and Bureaucratic CRONIES would like to scare the American public into wasting taxpayer dollars on another misadventure only to satisfy AIPAC’s paranoia. I would pose this questions, have the same critics analyzed India’s nuclear assets and the safeguards around them? India has the same dynamics as Pakistan, whether you look at radical Islam or Naxilite separatist movements. Why is it that the threat of those assets falling into the wrong hands is not of equal concern. Americans please take back your foreign policy and government from special interests!


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 4:15AM

    The Atlantic is a Zionists owned and operated publication; they have their own Zionist agenda to propagate erroneous information against Pakistan a predominant Muslim country. A trivial but nevertheless important point to make here, The Express Tribune must not toe the Zionist line by publishing such absurd news items for the sake of the national security of Pakistan.


  • asif ali
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:23AM

    I’ve seen the vans running on the Jhelum-Pindi route !


  • Khatti Chousney
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:40AM

    Pakistan, can you pls not use congested roads?


  • Sao Lao
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:44AM

    American propaganda machine in a new low. American you have lost and are humiliated .
    You guys have no respect whatsoever left in Pakistan thanks to your government and media.

    Open minded Pakistanis like me too.


  • emma
    Nov 5, 2011 - 5:16AM

    pakistan should be careful while dealing with nuclear weapons


  • Sri
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:41AM

    The game has just started folks. Time to sit back and enjoy the action.


  • MarkH
    Nov 5, 2011 - 7:02AM

    The only interest in your nukes comes in the form of contingency planning. Even the support aspect is included so that if the scenario actually became reality they could act immediately.

    If you don’t get why they’d plan for such scenarios ahead of time like that, regardless of the odds of it becoming reality, then you really shouldn’t be saying anything while simultaneously believing your time was well spent in doing so and should be taken seriously.

    Nobody cares about or are intimidated by your nukes as long as they’re kept out of reach in a logical way.


  • anybodyagree
    Nov 5, 2011 - 8:48AM

    “Although Pakistan has suggested it might shift towards
    China and forsake its ties to Washington, Chinese officials
    have reached an understanding in secret talks with US representatives
    that Beijing would raise no objections if the United States
    opted to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the report said,
    citing unnamed US sources.”

    DO WE TRUST CHINA …..???


    Nov 5, 2011 - 9:18AM

    they can not raid for this because our nukes are dispersed the are not at some particular place


  • Wowemkay
    Nov 5, 2011 - 9:36AM

    I think this one by Lt Gen Kidwai (Retd) is simply brilliant!! i can just imagine a bunch of nuke folks standing on a road hailing a rickshaw or qingchi ‘Oay zara eh atom bum uthay Vehari chadd aa’!! Back comes the response ‘Baoo jee doh hazaar rupay hon gay’.

    So simple yet perfectly practical and damn confusing to understand…..Gen Kidwai deserves a medal for this one.Recommend

  • EnGinEer
    Nov 5, 2011 - 10:01AM

    guys i believe that CIA is desperately looking for our nukes, and their are 100s of guys like Raymond Davis in Pak. These nukes are our last leverage for survival in the region south asia.
    Since what happened to Iraq , labia, Afghanistan i believe we are the next stop of Nato. Iran is the next Possible victim of Nato . i hope that we do something about that.


  • shame
    Nov 5, 2011 - 10:36AM

    Let me take it a bit further, Pakistan is also making flims like “Hassina Atom Bomb”, to transfer technology to others. This proves how much it is taking care of it atomic weapons.


  • zalim singh
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:15AM

    oh yeah. I can sleep in peace now.


  • Nasim
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:07PM


    The country that came closest to using nuclear weapons against adversaries
    ( who had no nuclear arms) is Israel; during the Yom Kippur war:

    In US eyes Israel can NEVER do wrong & go ahead producing as many weapons of mass destruction as it wants.

    Consider the number of civilian women & children slaughtered by Israel ( and the USA ) then decide who are the real murderers & terrorists on planet Earth.

    All the while; the US spouts hypocrisy about “freedom” while condoning & supporting the slavery, malnutrition & depravation of over 3 million Palestinians.

    The sooner China replaces USA as a predominant super power, the better . Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:07PM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.US leaders never create and never try to create any propaganda and reasons in any forms and manifestation to enter Pakistani nuclear power plants.This is not your headache.Don’t you stop spreading such these types of false informations about Pakistan’s nukes and keep it in your minds firmly and strongly and never forget that Pakistan Army is good enough to protect Pakistan’s nukes by Allah Almighty’s greatest and endless blessings.Is it clear.Protect your own nukes not the other countries’ nukes.Keep your eyes off Pakistani nukes.


  • Sana
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:09PM

    Has anyone seen John Travolta’s movie “Broken arrow”? The report seems to be inspired by that movie. Good movie though :)Recommend

  • sajid
    Nov 5, 2011 - 12:14PM

    Damn lolz
    It is all about fake newsRecommend

  • Nov 5, 2011 - 12:30PM

    To avoid US snatching our valuable nuclear assets, I suggest we keep them in China cupboards and China shops along with MA. Khan. We can also think of giving them to Iran on loan basis.


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Vienna,November 5,2011
    I have read it all. I know Atlantic for more than 50 years. It
    is not like Pakistani media. Responsible. Not nuclear safety
    Pakistani human safety is under threat by poorly escorted
    dancing death trucks.TANDAVA. Strategic assets.The hated
    Uncle Sam is engaged on a three pronged safety programme
    for the safety of AfPak women and children! Are you concerned?
    May be the uncle should be looking through about a thousand
    eyes, the fake and the realassets like the king of gods!He
    knows it all.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna


  • Ali Tanoli,
    Nov 5, 2011 - 5:15PM

    These magazines doest not make sense at all…


  • Ali Tanoli,
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:40PM

    @Kulamarva Balakrishna sahab,
    I will say hypocrisy unlimited we all know that what u think sir in one side israel and india
    are allows to do every thing and iran and pakistan get sunctions and iraqis get mass killing
    with out any proof even collin powel lies front of every body in security council.


  • Nov 5, 2011 - 7:34PM

    Dajjal is active since long, we should be cautious to protect our nuclear assets from our enemies which are insanely talking. Recommend

  • Fareedi
    Nov 5, 2011 - 8:28PM

    The fact that this article was written, means that the Americans can’t pin point the locations of our Strategic Assets. Bravo Armed Forces. You have scored a point there!


  • Kaiser Hameed Khan
    Nov 5, 2011 - 10:40PM

    I suggest USA buy all these civilian wagons from Pakistan, and also all donkey carts because Pakistanis would not carry Nukes on their shoulders.

  • Baloch
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:49PM

    Please exclude All baloches, we will ever never fight with pakistanies,
    I think and I m sure our dream is becoming real very soon.


  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 6, 2011 - 1:02AM

    Please don’t worry. No one needs our Nukes. God knows whether they will go off towards any target in time or not. Just imagine, our Trains and their Engines, then comes PIA. All are out of order. Moreover nothing is hidden from the lone super power called USA.. Even a needle moving around on earth can be traced out easily. I disagree with the report as a mischief and joke. Yes, our own lives are in danger due to any irresponsible move and safety standards.


  • Motsomi Masilo
    Nov 6, 2011 - 5:15AM

    Zionist propaganda at its best creating confusion all the way. When desperation creeps in the yankees have a tendency to go off the rails. National security matters of other countries should be respected. I believe the nukes are in safe hands and the yankees media must do the same. The Pakistani nuclear program was given thumbs up by the IAEA.


  • Kazmis
    Nov 7, 2011 - 12:49AM

    former USSR had all her Nukes intact when it was beaten by Pakistan and subsequently turned into pieces. US had its Nukes intact when he faced defeat in Vet Nam, hence Pakistani Nukes won’t play any part when west will try to treat it like Libya etc.


  • MH
    Nov 9, 2011 - 12:51AM

    Not talking about you. Don’t fight. Who is asking you? We have enough faithful Baloch in our ranks. Do us a favour though. Stop killing Hazaras in your province.

    As for you dream, dreams are dreams. They will remain so.


More in Pakistan