Pakistans nuclear weapons: How safe is safe enough? Transparency versus opacity

R. Zeb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Due to expanding and increasing religious extremism and terrorism coupled with political instability in Pakistan, most western observers believe that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not secure and could be taken over by terrorists. This would have adverse implications for the region and for global peace, especially for the security of USA and Europe. This article argues that this perception is based on a flawed understanding and knowledge of how Pakistan's command and control setup has evolved and operates. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are as safe as any other state's nuclear weapons. Pakistan has also been active in supporting and participating in global efforts to improve nuclear safety and security. Over the years, Pakistan has been quite open in sharing information regarding how it is improving its command and control system with western governments as well as scholars. This article argues that the steps Pakistan has taken to secure its nuclear weapons are adequate and that Pakistan would continue to further strengthen these measures; however, it is the expanding religious extremism, terrorism and anti-Americanism in the country which make the international perception of Pakistan extremely negative and then seep into the perception of Pakistan's nuclear weapons safety and security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-244
JournalDefense and Security Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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