Unusual customers of nuclear weapons

Two Brookings scholars suggest that there are four traits a combination of which could indicate a country is a potential buyer of illicit nuclear weapons – Resource-rich, undemocratic, threatened and Islamic. By this token, they contend that the recent alarm over a typographic error which suggested that Nigeria was considering purchase of nuclear weapons from Pakistan needs to be taken seriously.

In any case, the incident should remind U.S. experts and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that even though they have discovered that Iran, Libya and North Korea did business with Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan Khan, it does not mean they have necessarily uncovered the full extent of Pakistani proliferation. As the investigators dig further, they would be wise to consider suspects beyond the obvious candidates in the Middle East. They should also consider the possibility that Pakistan’s customers may not have purchased their own difficult-to-disguise nuclear production capability, but instead bought weapons to be stored in Pakistan until needed.[Brookings/IHT]