As AFP tells us, the Institute for Science and International Security just published a report on Pakistan’s nuclear program that seems designed to pour gasoline on the “the Pakistani nuclear program is outta control” story.
And, when you look at the story, there isn’t a whole lot of there there.
The commercial [satellite] images reveal a major expansion of a chemical plant complex near Dera Ghazi Kahn that produces uranium hexalfuoride and uranium metal, materials used to produce nuclear weapons.
Big whoop, I must say. The Pakistanis love their nuclear weapons, and it’s not surprising—as a sovereign state outside the NPT—they might decide to make some more.
The only conceivable takeaway from this report is muddled alarmism, which ISIS obligingly provides.
Given turmoil in Pakistan with the army waging war against Taliban militants in the northwest, the ISIS said the “security of its nuclear assets remains in question.”
“An expansion in nuclear weapons production capabilities needlessly complicates efforts to improve the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets,” it said.
I don’t get it. How are things suddenly more complicated by an expansion in capacity?
Washington, apparently believing that it doesn’t have enough on its plate with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban, is suddenly awash with dramatic plans to add a self-created problem to the mix: a quixotic effort to wrest Pakistan’s nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Army if the situation deteriorates.
And selling that idea seems to require fomenting an irrational panic concerning Pakistan’s nuclear program, as a metastasizing cancerous problem that’s getting BIGGER and BIGGER if we don’t DO SOMETHING.
You know what it smells like to me?
It smells like an effort by some to put a radical U.S. nuclear counterproliferation doctrine on the table now, so when it’s the end of the year and it’s time to deal with that other Muslim country with the destabilizing nuclear capability—you know, the one on the other side of Afghanistan, the one that the Israelis are so upset about—public opinion has been primed to accept the idea that some combination of air strikes, special ops, and insertion of U.S. forces is needed to save the world from an Islamic nuclear program that’s…outta control!
A crisis in Pakistan—and high-profile U.S. handwringing over those dangerous Muslim nukes—might be the best thing that happens to Benjamin Netanyahu this year.
Anyway, I don’t think we have a Pakistan nukes problem.
We have a reckless and cynical fearmongering problem that should ring alarm bells for anybody who remembers the Iraq war.
In a small way, I think we also have a David Albright problem.
ISIS is run by David Albright.
Scott Ritter delivered a devastating rip job on Albright in Truthdig last year, entitled The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was.
He characterized Albright as a dilettante wannabe nuclear weapons guy, who has self-promoted himself, his honorary doctorate, and his institute using the flimsiest of pretexts.
More importantly, Ritter identifies Albright’s key credential as a willingness to offer up uninformed and tendentious alarmism when the situation demands it.
Ritter’s conclusion sums up his feelings about Albright’s role in the nuclear non-proliferation debate:
Albright, operating under the guise of his creation, ISIS, has a track record of inserting hype and speculation about matters of great sensitivity in a manner which skews the debate toward the worst-case scenario. Over time Albright often moderates his position, but the original sensationalism still remains, serving the purpose of imprinting a negative image in the psyche of public opinion. This must stop. It is high time the mainstream media began dealing with David Albright for what he is (a third-rate reporter and analyst), and what he isn’t (a former U.N. weapons inspector, doctor, nuclear physicist or nuclear expert). It is time for David Albright, the accidental inspector, to exit stage right. Issues pertaining to nuclear weapons and their potential proliferation are simply too serious to be handled by amateurs and dilettantes.
Amen to that.
PETER LEE is a business man who has spent thirty years observing, analyzing, and writing on Asian affairs. Lee can be reached at peterrlee-2000@yahoo.