« New Richard Sale Post on TA | Main | ISIS--If it quacks like a duck is it? And, if it is, what are the consequences? ORIGIN »

22 May 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

FB Ali

Not a snowball's chance in Hell!

Which is where these guys reside. But they're clever - they put this little teaser in so that their story would be picked up by the jackal Western media, ever ready to grab something that'll win a couple of extra circulation points.

Of course, Theresa May sorely needs to have her head examined (bet they'll find nothing inside!).



I agree with FB Ali. Pakistan would not do such an irresponsible thing. pl


This seems consistent with their ongoing effort to goad the West into a full-on military intervention.

James Gardiner

This is slightly OT. With respect to "loose nukes", TTG has persuasively argued that the only reason the Ukrainians gave up their nuclear missiles was that they couldn't crack the PAL codes. However, that doesn't take care of the tac nukes that may have been stationed in the Ukraine. I doubt they would have been PAL-coded. If there are some nukes in the Ukraine, even tac nukes, that would explain the recorded conversation of Timoshenko that she wanted to nuke the Russians; also the remarks of Turchinov they should use a nuclear bomb on Donbass and he didn't care whether it was clean or dirty. Rather than being out and out loonies, the two would be seen to be extremists talking within the realms of possibility. I wonder if TTG could comment.

Further, Sy Hersh remarks in his LRB article on the Abbotabad op that the Americans spend a lot of time and money to keep good relations with Pakistan because of the nukes there, the Americans especially helping the Paks with nuclear security. However, he ignores completely the role of China in Pakistan. China seems to have its finger in the Pak pie quite deeply, especially on the nuke front. I wonder if someone can explain how China and the US work in the same playground even though they're competitors and rivals.

Finally, there are many posts on SST that talk about Ukraine and many that talk about ISIS and the ME. However, very few commenters make any effort to integrate Ukraine and Syria into an overall "Great Game" analysis. To what extent is the pressure in Ukraine an attempt to tie Russia up there so it can't move in the ME, especially Syria?

As for ISIS being able to buy one off the shelf, money talks and ISIS seems to have a certain "cachet" among extremists as the "real thing". I wouldn't pooh-pooh the possibility to the extent that I didn't spend some time making sure it didn't happen.

FB Ali

It appears that China provided some help initially in the development of the Pakistan bomb. I don't think they have any connection now to the program or the finished product (apart from providing some nuclear power reactors used for electricity production, but which also produce nuclear raw material as a byproduct).

I don't think either the US or China have any role in the 'nuclear security' field in Pakistan. They probably provided their own (redacted) protocols as guides early on.

Pakistan's nuclear weapons are its 'crown jewels'. It will not let any foreign power get too much involved in their security or the planning for their use.

Babak Makkinejad

To your last paragraph; ME is not worth that much to US or to Russia.

There are a few gas stations that can be protected with minimum number of assets in Southern Persian Gulf.

That is about the sum of it.

Adam L Silverman


This type of speculation used to be huge on the part of the extreme outward fringe of where the neo-Cons overlapped with the Islamaphobe. Except the focus was on al Qaeda getting one, with the speculation being from the Russians. Specifically from a Russian commander who hadn't been paid or resupplied for several months and would be amenable to a good offer from AQ. My last boss from before I went to work for the Army was part of that crowd and pushed this stuff all the time. That included an attempt to do an investigation in Poland in 2006 because he was convinced they had an empty quiver/missing nuke problem. This despite the fact that there are no nukes in Poland, which was explained to him repeatedly. Ultimately, however, the issue isn't if they might or would buy one, let alone if Pakistan would sell one and I'm in complete agreement with both COL Lang and Brigadier Ali that they wouldn't. Rather the issue is what are they going to do with just one? One nuke doesn't get you a deterrent effect. If you get it and broadcast it suddenly everyone is going to get really serious about reducing you, your movement, and your capabilities regardless of your actual intentions. If you get it and use it there's no backup deterrent to prevent the actual reduction of you and your movement. And the same goes if you parcel out the fissile material to make a series of dirty bombs.


Which banks holds "billions" of IS money? Where would those have come from? From a few millions from raw oil sell? No way!

Total baloney.


It's way more likely ISIS getting a nuke from Israel 'don't ask, don't know, don't care' nuclear arsenal if they promise to use it to nuke Tehran. And for free. Propaganda will take care Israel never gets mentioned if that was the case.

Squared fearmorgering: evil ISIS as a nuclear danger and those dangerous and barbaric Pakistani muslims that can't keep nukes safe and should not have them (only white anglos end-of-days protestants should!). Who ever is propagating these stupid propaganda scenarios should be writing science fiction and would be making a killing.

David Habakkuk

Adam Silverman,

Was this the 'suitcase nuke' rubbish, or a distinct scenario?

As to the source of the supposed danger, there were competing versions, as is evident in a symposium on 'Al Qaeda's Nukes' which appeared on the FrontPageMagazine.com site on 27 October 2006. According to one, assiduously disseminated by a certain Paul L. Williams, but apparently having had a good deal of currency earlier, al Qaeda had obtained tactical nuclear weapons from the Chechen mafia in 1996.

According to another, propounded by a Pole called David Dastych, 'the most dangerous connection is not between al Qaeda and the Chechen, or other mafias, but between al Qaeda and the former (or current) members of the Russian Intelligence.'

This latter theme was disseminated by the late Boris Berezovsky's 'information operations' people. In January 2004 – by which time as we now know he was employed as a MI6 agent – the late Alexander Litvinenko provided a declaration to his Italian associate Mario Scaramella, claiming that a member of the Solntsevskaya mafia gang had smuggled a 'nuclear suitcase' to Zurich at the instigation of the FSB.

In another declaration provided to Scaramella on 1 December 2005 – immediately prior to a visit by the latter to the U.S. – Litvinenko claimed that while under the FSB's control the notorious Ukrainian mobster Semyon Mogilevich had tried to obtain a 'mini nuclear bomb' for al Qaeda.

(See https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/INQ018922.pdf .)

However, Berezovsky had muddied the waters in the interval, claiming in February 2005 that the Chechens had already acquired a 'small portable' atomic device, which had not been used so far because 'some necessary element was missing'.

(See http://www.network54.com/Forum/211833/thread/1107970597/Chechens+have+atomic+weapons? .)

After it became clear that Litvinenko had died of polonium poisoning, a report in 'Izvestiya' harked back to these claims by Berezovsky, suggesting that the 'necessary element' might have been a polonium-based initiator, and that Litvinenko might have been involved in trying to supply this to his Chechen associates.

(See http://www.sras.org/news2.php?m=821 .)

Patent bunkum was being disseminated on all sides. The 'suitcase nukes' turned out to be a myth, which polonium-beryllium initiators had been abandoned early on in Soviet weapons, as in American.

Interestingly, however, the idea that al Qaeda had or might obtain nukes using such an initiator had been clearly implied in the fantasies produced by Paul L. Williams in the FrontPageMagazine.com symposium, which appeared shortly before Litvinenko was taken ill.

However, it is treated as axiomatic in virtually all the coverage of the death of Litvinenko in the mainstream British and American media, and also in the currently ongoing inquiry into his death, that the only possible reason polonium could have been smuggled into London in October/November 2006 was to be used as an assassination weapon.

The possibility that its presence might have had something to do with the 'information operations' being waged by Berezovsky and his associates against Russian security services, and the Russian security services against Berezovsky and his associates, does not seem even to merit consideration.

r whitman

Since 1945 about 80,000 nuclear weapons and devices have been manufactured. Can we absolutely account for every one of them??


Ah, the suitcase nuke - the PsyOps evergreen.
Debkafiles once claimed - sometime in the late 90s, I think - that the Palestinians had one and were about to move it into Ramallah by Friday.
(I don't remember the details. May have been another place in the occupied territories. Arrival may also have been expected on Saturday. Importantly, though, the Israelis could apparently follow the transport on the map. What a relief!)
In theory, there is even a chance that this stuff might be retrievable at archive.org. (Don't get your hopes up, though.)

Adam L Silverman

David Habakkuk,

It was both. The narrative shifted and consistency was not a seeming high priority. Basically it was a conjuring phrase to generate interest, stir up fear, and fundraise off of the concern. Often then stories were bracketed in real events, such as since A happened, B could happen to. A in this case was the one Russian Army unit commander that allowed some Chechen (if I'm recalling correctly) rebels to capture his men and equipment in the mid 90s in exchange for money. The rebels got a photo op and some news reporting that they were capable of capturing a Russian Army unit and the commander got enough money to feed and pay his troops and pocket a tidy profit. A became B when Russian Army unit would be replaced in the narrative with Russian nuclear missile and its mobile launcher.

William R. Cumming

NOPE but your numbers are way off. Unclassified estimated of US arsenal at peak over 70,000 tactical and strategic.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad