Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Cause for Concern

More Radical Insiders Will Have Access to Nuclear Materials and Pose New Issues

By BEN ARNOLDY, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 17, 2009

Some of Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s nuclear physics students will go on to oversee Pakistan’s atomic bombs. That gives him cause.

Photo: Could Taliban get keys to Pakistan's A-bomb? Experts see the Islamic fighters as less of a risk than radical insiders gaining access to nuclear materials.

In this file photo, Pakistan’s Babur Hatf VII cruise missile takes off during a test flight from an undisclosed location. Radical insiders may be more of a risk to gain access to nuclear materials than Islamic fighters.


"The student body has become very conservative, very Islamist, their outward appearance has changed," says Professor Hoodbhoy, the chair of the physics department at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. "It’s row after row of these burqa women."

Students avoid talking politics with Hoodbhoy, a cautionary voice on nuclear weapons in a nation that takes boisterous pride in having them. "They think I’m on the wrong side," he says.

International concerns are mounting again about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as fighting rages with the Taliban. But thanks to safeguards, experts worry much less about the Islamic fighters in the hills making off with a warhead. It’s the radicals among the educated — potential insiders — who are in a more realistic position to abscond with nuclear material and know how to use it.


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