Chickens and nukes
In a recent interview, Benazir Bhutto revealed that Pakistan already possessed components of nuclear weapons — they were just not assembled together.
A rather curious analogy, but Bhutto is really claiming credit for keeping the nuclear weapons in a state of disassembly and not conducting tests. That’s like the rooster claiming credit for making the sun rise.
Benazir Bhutto had little control over Pakistan’s nuclear programme, which was entirely in the hands of the military establishment. It is not unusual to keep nuclear weapons components in separate locations to prevent accidents, especially when failsafe command and control systems are not installed. And there is nothing unusual in Pakistan not testing nuclear weapons before India because it simply did not make sense that way.
Nevertheless, Bhutto’s admission underlines the sins of omission and commission of the Carter, Reagan and Bush Senior administrations in failing to nip the Pakistani nuclear program in the bud. The A Q Khan network would never have come into being if the United States did not look the other way when Pakistan was busy building its nuclear weapons. David Albright and Corey Hinderstein have written an article in the Washington Quarterly on the Khan network and ways in which such networks can be unraveled in future. Seen in context, it is an excellent treatise on guarding the coop long after the chickens (pardon the analogy) have been allowed to escape.