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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD)
Combat Development Directorate (CDD)

With Pakistan's Army playing the central role in strategic planning, overall supervision and coordination is vested in the Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD), previously known as the Combat Development Directorate (CDD), of the General Headquarters (GHQ).

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is under the control of Pakistan's Strategic Plan Division -- the security structure headed in 2009 by 58-year-old General Khalid Kidwai and intended to keep the weapons from falling into the hands of Islamic militants, Al-Qaeda scientists, or Indian saboteurs. General Kidwai has said that the nuclear warheads could be assembled very quickly with land- and air-delivery systems. President General Pervez Musharraf declared in 2007 that the weapons were in a "disassembled state" -- most likely meaning that the warheads were kept separately from the ballistic missiles capable of delivering them to targets.

Pakistan Armed Forces strategic assets and facilities are secured under fully indigenous, multi-layered, institutionalized security and Command and Control structure which have been operational since 1998. Consistent with obligations as a nuclear weapons state, Pakistan formally instituted an elaborate Nuclear Command and Control mechanism in February 2000 that comprises National Command Authority (NCA), Strategic Plans Division (SPD) and Strategic Forces Command. India created a National Command Authority (NCA) and a tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) to manage the country's nuclear arsenal in January 2003.

The Strategic Plan Division (SPD) was established in February 2000 to improve the control of nuclear operations. The SPD acts as a secretariat for the National Command Authority (NCA). The SPD has an elaborate Security Division which includes a counter-intelligence network to safeguard the activities of strategic organizations. It also has in place a dedicated multi-layered security apparatus o safeguard strategic assets. Personnel reliability is also a high priority area to which necessary resources are allocated. The Director General of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) of the NCA Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Khaled Ahmed Kidwai, controls and guards the nuclear arsenal, under the supervision of the Army chief (Ashfaq Parvez Kayani) with the assistance of the Pakistan Army. Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai is sometimes [incorrectly] identified as Director General of the Strategic Forces Command.

Chaklala Garrison is an old British cantonment from the days of the Raj. Chaklala is a comfortable enclave for the country's military and intelligence services, where officers in the Army and Inter-Services Intelligence live in houses with well-tended lawns. Business is conducted in long, low office buildings. Deep inside the garrison is the small compound for Strategic Plans Division, headed by Khalid Kidwai.

The Strategic Plans Division has implemented an extensive personal-reliability program to screen existing employees and applicants to the nuclear program. The Division also monitors nuclear employees' bank accounts, foreign trips and meetings with anyone who might be considered an extremist. There are about 70,000 people working in the nuclear complex, including some 7,500 scientists and about 2,000 or so with "critical knowledge." A "3-man rule" system is in place as a guarantee against unauthorized activities.

General Kidwai has stated that Pakistan has "ground and air capability for the delivery of nuclear weapons", apparently meaning that they can be delivered by airplanes and missiles. The nuclear weapons are said not to be maintained on a hair-trigger alert, and in times of peace its the nuclear warheads are said to be maintained separately from their non-nuclear assemblies and delivery systems. According to General Kidwai, the bombs can be assembled "very quickly". Pakistan's stockpile is hiden in underground facilities where neither the Indians nor the Americans could seize or destroy the warheads. In a confrontation between Pakistan and India, the Pakistani military would transport nuclear weapons to delivery systems for employment. When nuclear weapons are moved into different locations, this poses a significant stress on the security system, requiring a tight control of multiple locations and means of transportation.

As of 2000, Kidwai reported that there were no such things as PALs (Permissive Action Links) to prevent unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. However, by 2008, Kidwai reported that PALs had been implemented on Pakistan's nuclear stockpile. The SPD was a beneficiary of a secret $100 million grant by the Bush administration, to make Pakistan's nuclear weapons safer.

While the civilian bureaucracy does not retire top mandarins, who are generously allowed extension in violation of the law and rules, the Pakistan Army had seen just three cases of extensions from 1999 through 2007. These exceptional extensions include General Musharraf, his Chief of Staff Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Javaid. The third case of extension is that of Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai, who is presently heading the strategic planning division. Kidwai was set to retire in 2006, but Musharraf gave him one-year extension reportedly because of his technical assignment. In October 2007, Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was promoted to full general, and made the Vice Chief of Army Staff. At the time of promotion, Kayani superseded one officer, Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai who was on an extension for a year.

In November 2007 top Pakistani security officials held a special briefing for Western journalists on the security of the country's nuclear arsenal. This came a few weeks after IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei warned that Pakistan's "many internal problems" placed the country's nuclear arms at risk. At the briefing, Lt-Gen Kidwai said the weapons were protected by a "fool-proof" security system. Kidwai said 10,000 troops, including staff reporting directly to the intelligence services, guarded the nuclear facilities. Pakistan's nuclear sites were equipped with security cameras; biometric access control; bullet-proof vehicles, high security walls; and quick reaction forces.

In January 2008 the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad ElBaradei, said "I fear that chaos, or an extremist regime, could take root in that country, which has 30 to 40 warheads." He also expressed fear that "nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups in Pakistan or Afghanistan."

In February 2008 Ashley Tellis, senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on South Asia that : "It is my judgment that Pakistan's strategic assets -- to include its nuclear devices, its delivery systems, and its stockpile of fissile materials -- are fundamentally safe today... Compared to the situation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was still relatively vulnerable to a variety of external and internal threats, the security of these assets has improved dramatically as a result of the protective measures put in place since the late 1990s.'

Tellis gave 'singular credit' for this to Director General of Pakistan's Strategic Plans Division, retired Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai. Tellis said that the safeguards Pakistan, led by Kidwai, had put into place "focused on insulating the strategic reserves against both external and international dangers, involve a combination of solutions ranging from tightened physical security at strategic installations, to large investments in opacity and deception and denial, to incorporation of technical controls on the nuclear weapons themselves, to the institutionalization of organizational solutions aimed at preventing insider threats."

State Hillary Clinton told Fox News on 27 April 2009 that the Obama administration had concerns over what could happen to the Pakistani nuclear arsenal if the Taliban toppled the government. "One of our concerns, which we've raised with the Pakistani government and military is that if the worst, the unthinkable were to happen, and this advancing Taliban encouraged and supported by al-Qaeda and other extremists were to essentially topple the government for failure to beat them back - then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan," Hillary Clinton said. "We can't even contemplate that. We cannot, you know, let this go on any further. Which is why we're pushing so hard for the Pakistanis to come together around a strategy to take their country back," Clinton told Fox.

The very next day President Asif Zardari ruled out the possibility of the Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of the Taliban. In a wide-ranging interview with the international media on 28 April 2009, Zardari said: "I want to assure the world that the nuclear capability of Pakistan is in safe hands as Pakistan had a strong command-and-control system for its nuclear weapons that is fully in place."

On 30 April 2009, at a news conference to mark the 100 days of his presidency, President Barack Obama said: "I am confident that the Pakistan Army will not allow its nuclear arsenal to fall into the hands of Islamic militant groups like the Taliban or al-Qaeda".

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Page last modified: 02-08-2011 15:30:28 ZULU