Cablegate: Pakistan: Cjcs Mullen Meets with General Kidwai On Safeguarding Nuclear Assets
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FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5238
INFO RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 9006
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 4860
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 3562
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 000736
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR MASS MNUC PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTAN: CJCS MULLEN MEETS WITH GENERAL KIDWAI ON SAFEGUARDING NUCLEAR ASSETS
REF: A. ISLAMABAD 424
B. 07 ISLAMABAD 5391
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY. On February 9, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with LTG Kahlid Ahmed Kidwai (ret), Director General of Pakistan's Strategic Plans Division, to discuss the security of Pakistan's nuclear infrastructure. Kidwai presented a detailed briefing on the infrastructure and protective measures Pakistan has put in place to protect its nuclear assets. He also addressed the most commonly discussed scenarios used by media and others to argue that Pakistan's arsenal could fall extremists' hands. Kidwai also noted recent measures taken to thwart suicide bombers. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Kidwai presented Admiral Mullen with a detailed briefing on the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and technology, including Pakistani regulatory controls over civilian nuclear and radiological material. Admiral Mullen was accompanied by the Ambassador and General Majid, while Kidwai delivered the briefing flanked by six of his subordinate Directors General. The briefing was essentially the same one Kidwai gave the diplomatic community and international press corps earlier this year in the wake of a flurry of media reports and public statements expressing concerns regarding Pakistan's nuclear security. (Ref A)
3. (C) The SPD acts as the Secretariat for the National Command Authority (NCA). The NCA is responsible for policy development and exercises operational control over all strategic nuclear forces. Kidwai's briefing focused on the structure and function of the NCA and its sub-components, as well as specific protective measures. Kidwai emphasized the NCA is a mix of civilian and military officials, noting that no single individual could authorize deployment of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
4. (C) In addition to detailing command and control structures, Kidwai also addressed three of the most commonly posited scenarios under which Pakistan's nuclear assets fall into the hands of extremists: 1) extremists assume political power through elections; 2) law and order collapse, allowing extremists to assume control; 3) rogue military officers stage a coup.
5. (C) Kidwai addressed each of these scenarios, noting that, by any estimate, Pakistan's political landscape was dominated by mainstream political parties; therefore, no extremist element could assume leadership through elections. Despite the turbulent events of recent months (and years), law and order had never come close to breaking down; thus, this was not a realistic threat. Finally, any potential rogue military officers would not be able to assume control of nuclear assets because of the NCA's protective controls. More important, Kidwai dismissed even the notion of rogue officers, saying Pakistan's officer corps is drawn from middle and upper-class families. The officers are moderate, disciplined, well-educated professionals with a strong ethos of loyalty to the military and to Pakistan.
6. (C) Kidwai also remarked the SPD had recently begun to address the threat posed by potential suicide bombers, instituting new protocols, including expanding security perimeters. He recognized that, though suicide bombers pose little threat to the weapons themselves, such an attack, carried out against the entrance of perimeter of a storage site or base would cause a perception of weakened security.
7. (C) Admiral Mullen asked how robust Pakistan's Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) was and Kidwai responded that it had taken two years to establish, and there had initially been resistance from personnel who felt their patriotism was being questioned, but the program was now well-established and accepted.
8. (C) Asked the question of what Pakistan planned to do in terms of decommissioning, Kidwai replied this issue was not yet pressing as Pakistan's current nuclear material and warheads were years away from decommissioning. However, Kidwai added that Pakistan budgeted funds each year to be set aside for eventual decommissioning.