American officials are actively forming and testing plans to “snatch” Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, more than 100 in total, should the country devolve into chaos and Islamist militants stage an attack on one of its nuclear sites, as they have three times before, NBC News’ Robert Windrem reports.
Such an operation would probably be carried out by the U.S. Nuclear Emergency Search Team, profiled in a 2009 book by Jeffrey Richelson, in conjunction with the Joint Special Operations Command, which helped lead the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. Windrem says that war games and military exercises to prepare for such an attack have probably already begun.
The “snatch and grab” operation would carry much higher risks than the relatively small raid to kill bin Laden, however, and could even inadvertently lead to regional war, if Pakistan mistakenly thought India had taken the weapons.
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told NBC News that an American attempt to seize the nukes would lead to all-out war between Pakistan and the United States.
“These are assets which are the pride of Pakistan, assets which are dispersed and very secure in very secure places, guarded by a corps of 18,000 soldiers,” Musharaff told Windrem. “(This) is not an army which doesn’t know how to fight. This is an army which has fought three wars. Please understand that.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.