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2582Bush handed blueprint to seize Pakistan's nuclear arsenal

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  • Greg Cannon
    Nov 30, 2007
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      http://www.guardian.co.uk/pakistan/Story/0,,2220126,00.html

      Bush handed blueprint to seize Pakistan's nuclear
      arsenal

      · Architect of Iraq surge draws up takeover options
      · US fears army's Islamists might grab weapons

      Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark
      Saturday December 1, 2007
      The Guardian

      The man who devised the Bush administration's Iraq
      troop surge has urged the US to consider sending elite
      troops to Pakistan to seize its nuclear weapons if the
      country descends into chaos.

      In a series of scenarios drawn up for Pakistan,
      Frederick Kagan, a former West Point military
      historian, has called for the White House to consider
      various options for an unstable Pakistan.

      These include: sending elite British or US troops to
      secure nuclear weapons capable of being transported
      out of the country and take them to a secret storage
      depot in New Mexico or a "remote redoubt" inside
      Pakistan; sending US troops to Pakistan's
      north-western border to fight the Taliban and
      al-Qaida; and a US military occupation of the capital
      Islamabad, and the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and
      Baluchistan if asked for assistance by a fractured
      Pakistan military, so that the US could shore up
      President Pervez Musharraf and General Ashfaq Kayani,
      who became army chief this week.

      "These are scenarios and solutions. They are designed
      to test our preparedness. The United States simply
      could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan
      descended into the abyss," Kagan, who is with the
      American Enterprise Institute, a thinktank with strong
      ideological ties to the Bush administration, told the
      Guardian. "We need to think now about our options in
      Pakistan,"

      Kagan argued that the rise of Sunni extremism in
      Pakistan, coupled with the proliferation of al-Qaida
      bases in the north-west, posed a real possibility of
      terrorists staging a coup that would give them access
      to a nuclear device. He also noted how sections of
      Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment
      continued to be linked to Islamists and warned that
      the army, demoralised by having to fight in Waziristan
      and parts of North-West Frontier Province, might
      retreat from the borders, leaving a vacuum that would
      be filled by radicals. Worse, the military might
      split, with a radical faction trying to take over
      Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

      Kagan accepted that the Pakistani military was not in
      the grip of Islamists. "Pakistan's officer corps and
      ruling elites remain largely moderate. But then again,
      Americans felt similarly about the shah's regime and
      look what happened in 1979," he said, referring to
      Iran.

      The scenarios received a public airing two weeks ago
      in an article for the New York Times by Kagan and
      Michael O'Hanlon, an analyst at the Brookings
      Institution, who has ties to the Democrats.

      They have been criticised in the US as well as
      Pakistan, with Kagan accused of drawing up plans for
      another US occupation of a Muslim country.

      But the scenarios are regarded with some seriousness
      because of Kagan's influence over thinking in the Bush
      administration as the architect of the Iraq troop
      surge, which is conceded to have brought some
      improvements in security.

      A former senior state department official who works as
      a contractor with the government and is familiar with
      current planning on Pakistan told the Guardian:
      "Governments are supposed to think the unthinkable.
      But these ideas, coming as they do from a man of
      significant influence in Washington's militarist camp,
      seem prescriptive and have got tongues wagging - even
      in a town like Washington, built on hyperbole."

      Kagan said he was not calling for an occupation of
      Pakistan.

      "I have been arguing the opposite. We cannot invade,
      only work with the consent of elements of the Pakistan
      military," he said.

      "But we do have to calculate how to quantify and then
      respond to a crisis that is potentially as much a
      threat as Soviet tanks once were. Pakistan may be the
      next big test."

      The political and security crises there have led the
      Bush administration to conclude that Pakistan has
      become a more dangerous place than it was before
      Musharraf took over in the coup of October 1999.

      One Pentagon official said last week that the defence
      department had indeed been war-gaming some of Kagan's
      scenarios.

      A report by Kagan and O'Hanlon in April highlighted
      their argument.

      "The only serious response to this international
      environment is to develop armed forces capable of
      protecting America's vital interests throughout this
      dangerous time," it said.

      But in Pakistan, aides to Musharraf yesterday
      dismissed Kagan's study as "hyperbole".