In July, the CTC Sentinel published an analysis stating that over the past two years, several Pakistani nuclear weapons sites have come under attack. Shaun Gregory, the author of the report and an expert on Pakistani security, pointed to three instances where Pakistani sites were targeted by militants:
…an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly sites.
Pakistan’s problem emanates in part from the location of its nuclear facilities. Worried about their vulnerability to an Indian invasion or strike, Pakistan placed many of its complexes around Islamabad and in the northwestern portion of the country. With the rise in militant extremism, many of these facilities now find themselves in or near areas populated by the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda…
Pakistani nuclear establishment insiders with extremist or monetary interests might collaborate with an outside group to access a nuclear facility or smuggle out materials. This is a real danger considering that the founding fathers of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan and Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, both conspired to sell nuclear technology for profit.
Gregory emphasized that Pakistan possesses an extensive system of safeguards to protect its nuclear arsenal. He also noted that the militants were not necessarily targeting the facilities for their nuclear assets. As one U.S. intelligence official told the NY Times:
These are large facilities. It’s not clear that the attackers knew what these bases might have contained. In addition, the mode of attack was curious. If they were after something specific, or were truly seeking entry, you’d think they might use a different tactic, one that’s been employed elsewhere — such as a bomb followed by a small-arms assault. Simply touching off an explosive outside the gate of a base — with no follow-up — doesn’t get you inside.
In a recent ACT article and in Senate testimony, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center, also voiced concerns about Pakistan’s nukes. In addition to the danger posed by insider collusion and rising instability, Mowatt-Larssen warned of the rapid expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear program. Pakistan doubled parts of its nuclear weapons complex in recent years. This drive to expand could have adverse effects on security because, as Mowatt-Larssen put it, “[m]ore of everything means more vulnerabilities, more places for something to go wrong.”