Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal Remains a Major Question

Is America Planning to Seize Weapons, Is Pakistan Using US Aid to Build More?

As the Pakistani government turns the area north of their capital city of Islamabad into a warzone, and President Asif Ali Zardari plans to expand that battle to encompass the nation’s entire northern frontier, the military’s repeated assurances about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are holding less and less water, and speculation about what will happen to them as the nation continues to descend out of control remains a major topic of speculation.

Fueling much of it are comments revealed yesterday from an interview in which President Obama said that he had to consider “all options” to prevent the arsenal from falling into the hands of extremists. Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas blamed “the Jewish and Indian lobby” for fueling concerns about the safety of the weapons, and denied that the US was even capable to seizing the weapons. CIA director Leon Panetta seemed to confirm that, admitting that the US wasn’t even sure where some of the weapons are being kept.

But while the US seems content to continue throwing endless amounts of aid at the Pakistani government, Congress is being secretly informed that the nation is rapidly adding to its arsenal, fueling speculation that some of the US aid is being diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program. Pakistan denies that this is the case, but satellite photos seemed to confirm major expansions at two known sites.

The overall size of the Pakistani arsenal is not officially known, but they are believed to have over 100 warheads. The nation is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has engaged in something of an arms race with rival India. US willingness to provide near limitless funds to the virtually bankrupt Pakistani government in return for engaging in a war along its northern border seems like it may well be providing Pakistan with the resources it needs to expand its arsenal.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.