I thought it a good time--now that we have evidence Pakistan is expanding its nuclear program--to reiterate an argument I made several weeks ago. Iran is not the nuclear threat we should be most worried about.
"South Asia may be heading for a nuclear arms race that could lead to arsenals growing into the hundreds of nuclear weapons, or at minimum, vastly expanded stockpiles of military fissile material," the institute's David Albright and Paul Brannan concluded in the technical assessment, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post
I'm worried about a nuclear arms race. But I'm also worried that Pakistan, which has never fully cooperated in our efforts to shut down AQ Khan's nuclear weapons network, would start shopping plutonium around the world. Albright estimates the reactor is still "a few years away" from completion, after which point it could produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for 40 to 50 nuclear weapons a year.
And meanwhile, the US is set to debate whether we should start sharing our nuclear secrets with India. A group that may have ties to Pakistan just carried out a bombing in Mumbai that killed hundreds. The Taliban--and the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice--seem to be making a resurgence in Afghanistan; NATO's commander in Afghanistan describes it as "close to anarchy." Some wiseacres in the White House propose Bush build up Sunni Arabs to oppose the Shiites.
White House aides have said they consider the Lebanon crisis to be a "leadership moment" for Mr Bush and an opportunity to proceed with his post-September 11 plan to reshape the Middle East by building Sunni Arab opposition to Shi’a terrorism. Yesterday Mr Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah.
And Bush just rushed through approval to send 18 F-16s to Pakistan.
Yet it's Iran, which won't have the bomb for years and probably could only accelerate that process by getting plutonium from some source, like Pakistan, that has it to sell. In two years time, Pakistan will have lots more of it to sell.
Gosh, I don't have a good feeling about this.