Pakistan and Nuclear Terrorism: How Real is the Threat?
Pakistan's nuclear weapons program and proliferation record have often been identified as a threat to regional and international security. Over the last decade, however, the focus of international concern has shifted to questions surrounding the safety and security of Pakistan's military and civilian nuclear complex. As Pakistan's domestic political situation has deteriorated, fears have grown that its nuclear weapons, technologies, and materials may fall into the hands of extremist nonstate actors, such as the Taliban or al Qaeda, imperiling international security. This article presents three major arguments in this respect: significant opportunities exist at each level of Pakistan's nuclear complex for the theft or diversion of nuclear weapons/materials by nonstate actors; a major concern is Pakistan's expansion in its production of high-enriched uranium and plutonium; and the threat to Pakistan's nuclear weapons/materials is significant but has been overstated.