The big fear in the Middle East right now is that the Taliban will topple the current regime in Pakistan and gain control of their nuclear weapons. It's hard to imagine a more frightening circumstance than Islamic terrorists armed with nukes.
To prevent this the military has been training a special ops unit to insert itself into Pakistan, if the Taliban seems on the verge of overrunning it, and to secure the weapons and transfer them to a safe location. Here are excerpts from the Fox News report on this program:
The United States has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists.
American intelligence sources say the operation would be conducted by Joint Special Operations Command, the super-secret commando unit headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.
JSOC is the military's chief terrorists hunting squad and has units now operating in Afghanistan on Pakistan's western border. But a secondary mission is to secure foreign nuclear arsenals -- a role for which JSOC operatives have trained in Nevada.
The mission has taken on added importance in recent months, as Islamic extremists have taken territory close to the capital of Islamabad and could destabilize Pakistan's shaky democracy.
"We have plans to secure them ourselves if things get out of hand," said a U.S. intelligence source who has deployed to Afghanistan. "That is a big secondary mission for JSOC in Afghanistan."
The source said JSOC has been updating its mission plan for the day President Obama gives the order to infiltrate Pakistan.
"Small units could seize them, disable them and then centralize them in a secure location," the source said.
A secret Defense Intelligence Agency document first disclosed in 2004 said Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal of 35 weapons. The document said it plans to more than double the arsenal by 2020.
What makes the Pakistan mission especially difficult is that the military has its missiles on Soviet-style mobile launchers and rail lines. U.S. intelligence agencies, using satellite photos and communication intercepts, is constantly monitoring their whereabouts. Other warheads are kept in storage. U.S. technical experts have visited Pakistan to advise the government on how to maintain and protect its arsenal.
Also, there are rogue elements inside Pakistan's military and intelligence service who could quickly side with the extremists and make JSOC's mission all the more difficult.
"It's relatively easy to track rail-mounted ones with satellites," said the intelligence source. "Truck-mounted are more difficult. However, they are all relatively close to the capital in areas that the government firmly controls so we don't have to look too far."
JSOC is made up of three main elements: Army Delta Force, Navy SEALs and a high-tech special intelligence unit known as Task Force Orange. JSOC was instrumental in Iraq in finding and killing Abu Musab Zarqawi, the deadly and most prominent Al Qaeda leader in the Middle East.
This seems like our best option in Pakistan should Islamist seizure of the weapons appear imminent. So, what is the plan for Iran?RLC