US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
The troops, augmented by volunteer scientists from America’s Nuclear Emergency Search Team organisation, are under orders to take control of an estimated 60 warheads dispersed around six to 10 high-security Pakistani military bases. …
Internal security at Pakistan’s nuclear storage sites is the responsibility of a 10,000-man security force commanded by a two-star general. Every member of the force is vetted with the aim of weeding out sympathisers of the Taliban and al Qaeda or anyone with extreme Islamic views.
US diplomatic and military initiatives since 2001 have concentrated on trying to ensure that pro-western commanders were in charge at the most sensitive sites.
There has also been pressure to keep Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, thought to contain a number of high-ranking pro-Taliban supporters, out of the nuclear loop.