It's not that this could become America's problem. It already is, as Washington spends money hand over fist trying desperately to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of jihadists even with Pakistan's current regime in place, let alone taking into account the possibility of its collapse. Islamabad has been living on borrowed time for years, trying to appease jihadist movements and leverage their bloodlust toward India at the expense of its sovereignty over its own territory. And amid all that instability, they have been bolstering their nuclear arsenal. Gee, what could possibly go wrong?
"Pakistan's nuclear stockpile worries US," by Harun ur Rashid for the Daily Star, February 9 (thanks to Twostellas):
India and Pakistan, both neighbours with nuclear arms, have different perceptions of security, which complicates the security situation in South Asia. While India defines its security position in light of China's military strength, Pakistan assesses its security concerns against India's position. This has resulted in nuclear arms and missiles race in South Asia.
The original Washington Post report can be found here.
It has been reported by US intelligence that Pakistan has become the world's fifth largest nuclear weapons power, overtaking Britain. The deployed weapons now number more than 110, according to recent estimates of US intelligence. Pakistan says that it is a credible, minimum nuclear deterrent, and people should not get unduly concerned about the stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Observers say that Pakistan has been infuriated by the nuclear deal between Washington and New Delhi, arguing that it has freed India's homemade fuel to produce new weapons. As a result, Pakistan argues that it has no choice but to bolster its own production.
It is reported that the US has spent $100 million helping Pakistan to build fences, install sensor systems and train personnel to handle the weapons. But the US is deeply concerned that weapons-usable fuel, which is kept in laboratories and storage centres, is more vulnerable and could be diverted by insiders in Pakistan's vast nuclear complex.
Another concern is not the weapons but the increase in production of material, especially plutonium. Pakisan is completing work on a large plutonium production reactor, which will greatly increase its ability to produce a new generation of weapons.
The biggest concern for the US is theft from the plants that produce plutonium. It is reported that Al Queda has been attempting to procure nuclear material and recruit scientists in order to build a "dirty bomb."
Western security chiefs told a Nato meeting in 2009 that Al-Queda was planning a programme of "dirty radioactive improved explosive devices" which could be used against soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Al Queda papers found in 2007 convinced security officials that greater advances had been made in bio-terrorism than previously feared....
Recently revealed Wikileaks cables support all of the above.