Washington, June 14 : Leading nuclear expert Michael Krepon has said that the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons could be compromised if there was a breakdown of the unity of command within the army, and if there was a serious crisis or a military clash with India.
"When tensions rise precipitously with India, the readiness level of Pakistan's nuclear deterrent also rises," Krepon said in a testimony before a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
"Nuclear weapons on the move are inherently less secure than nuclear weapons at heavily guarded storage sites and are also more susceptible to insider security threats," he said.
Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Centre, warned if a crisis spills over into combat, the possibility of a mushroom cloud, whether by accident, a breakdown of command and control, or a deliberate, top-down decision cannot be discounted.
Examining the likelihood of the last scenario, Krepon said that a horrific act of violence that sparked another serious crisis on the Subcontinent was always a possibility.
However, the Pakistan Army leadership can be expected to try to avoid having heightened security concerns on two fronts, which means that, as long as activities along the border with Afghanistan pre-occupy Pakistan's military and intelligence services, they will seek to avoid serious tensions with India.
Krepon said the Pakistan Army's unity of command was essential for nuclear security.
A second worrisome scenario, he noted, was a prolonged period of turbulence and infighting among the country's President, Prime Minister, and Army Chief.
Krepon told the senators that there is great suspicion in Pakistan about US intentions. He said Washington had focused very little on ways to promote a Kashmir settlement and reconciliation between India and Pakistan.
A well-governed, stable society at peace with its neighbours was one in which nuclear weapons had little use and were well guarded, the Daily Times quoted Krepon, as saying.