Washington, June 14 : Pakistan's nuclear capabilities present at least four challenges to American nuclear policy and its arsenal was described as risk-prone at a Senate hearing.
Among those who testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, was Stephen P Cohen of the Brookings Institution, who said, "Pakistan's nuclear capabilities present at least four challenges to American policy:"
"There is a small but real possibility of the next India-Pakistan crisis escalating to nuclear levels. Pakistan may decide, as a matter of state policy, to extend a nuclear umbrella (or engage in nuclear sharing) with one or more Middle East states, especially if Iran acquires a nuclear device," Cohen said.
"There is a hard-to-quantify risk of nuclear theft. Pakistan has a home grown personnel reliability programme, but even this could be circumvented in a determined conspiracy. There is some small chance that should Pakistan unravel, that its nuclear assets will be seized by remnant elements of the army for political, strategic, or personal purposes," he added.
Cohen said that while nuclear proliferation or nuclear theft should not be the sole, or even the determining element in Washington's relationship with Pakistan, some of the scenarios were "frightening".
He explained, "Our policy paradox is that we want many things from Pakistan, but that we cannot directly address Pakistan's inability to deliver. We want Pakistan to co-operate on terrorism, we want it to normalise with India, we want to ensure that it will not proliferate nuclear technology, we want it to democratise, and we want it to transform its domestic order by 'normalising' the FATA."
Cohen said Washington should "marginally increase" its engagement in India-Pakistan relations, adding that the Pakistan Army still regarded nuclear weapons as its main defence, the Daily Times reported.
"We need to address their chief incentive to acquire more and bigger nuclear weapons," he said.