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Friday, August 11, 2006

Pakistan Splits Nuclear Weapons Among Three Services

Pakistan has equipped three units in its armed forces with nuclear weapons and missiles, Kyodo News reported yesterday (see GSN, Aug. 7).

“We have an army strategic force command, we have the air force strategic force command and the naval strategic force command. ... They are being controlled by responsible people,” Defense Ministry spokesman Shaukat Sultan told Kyodo. “The strategic force in the army is headed by a three-star general and they have various missile groups under them.”

Army nuclear silos and warehouses are spread around the country, largely underground, officials and experts said.

“There might be up to 100 facilities where missiles and nuclear weapons and their parts are stored in peacetime,” said one source.

The army’s strategic force has nearly 6,000 troops, according to Kyodo, while the air force has U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter jets and French-manufactured Mirage aircraft, both able to carry nuclear bombs.

The navy has a new cruise missile that could be used to carry nuclear warheads, Kyodo reported. However, defense analysts said Pakistan has yet to test-fire a nuclear-capable missile from a naval platform.

Sultan said Pakistan’s nuclear devices and delivery systems are not kept together in storage.

“The launch mechanism, the device and various other mechanisms, they are kept at different places. To launch them, you have to first put them together,” he said. He added that few personnel have access to codes required to operate the weapons (Kyodo News/Yahoo!News, Aug. 9).
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