by Gordon Prather
February 16, 2008
According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, entitled “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues,”
“The main security challenges for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are keeping the integrity of the command structure, ensuring physical security, and preventing illicit proliferation from insiders.
“While U.S. and Pakistani officials express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, it is uncertain what impact continued instability in the country will have on these safeguards.”
U.S. officials confident that Pakistani nukes are safeguarded and secure against outsiders?
The Pentagon has just released its Defense Science Board Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Surety Report on the Unauthorized Movement of Nuclear Weapons.
If the Pakistani “surety” measures taken by “insiders” are no better than those of our Air Combat Command, we’re all in a heap of trouble.
According to the DSB Task Force Report, on August 29th, 2007, a pylon – carrying six cruise missiles, each armed with nuclear warhead – was without authorization removed from a nuclear weapons stockpile storage site at Minot AFB, transported without authorization – and mated without authorization – to a B-52 bomber. The nuke laden B-52 then sat, improperly, unguarded overnight, and was then, without authorization, allowed to take off the following morning, make an unauthorized flight to Barksdale AFB, to make an unauthorized landing, and then sit, unguarded, until alert Barkdale personnel discovered the six nukes, just sitting there on their tarmac.
For more than 36 hours no one in the U.S. nuclear weapon command-and-control system knew where those nukes were, or in whose possession.
Not to worry. The Task Force seems to conclude that it was a paperwork problem. An ACC documentation problem.
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