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November 5, 2001
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US ready for shoot-out if Pak nukes fall into extremists hands

T V Parasuram in Washington

The United States will be prepared for a shoot-out between its troops and Pakistani troops if President Gen Pervez Musharraf is removed from power and the country's nuclear weapons are in danger of falling into the hands of fundamentalists or Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden.

"In case of an uprising in Pakistan or if Musharraf is overthrown by forces friendly to Taleban or bin Laden, the 2,200 troops of the 15th Marine Expeditionary unit cooped up on the assault ship USS Peleliu, presumably itching for action, could be sent to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear weapons and materials to keep them away from Osama or other terrorists, a media report said in Washington on Sunday quoting sources.

Even unassembled nuclear bomb parts could be dangerous, it said.

'A radiological weapon', a conventional explosive device used to scatter radioactive material, would be nearly as devastating as an actual nuclear bomb, producing fallout that could render an American city uninhabitable for years, Newsweek said.

The material, said Newsweek, could come from a weapons programme or a civilian facility, such as a nuclear power plant. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are dispersed across several secret locations, and some elements of the armed forces surely would resist attempt by foreigners to take control of them.

"But if it comes to that," said Newsweek, "a shootout with Pakistan might be preferable to nuclear terrorism in the United States."

Whether US Marines would actually be needed for such a task, and whether they could pull it off, remains unclear, the weekly added.

PTI

RELATED REPORT:
Pak nukes safe from fundamentalists: Rumsfeld
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External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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