The Taliban could gain control of nuclear weapons as a result of their lightning conquest of Afghanistan and the Biden administration’s hurried abandonment of the county, according to former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
“The Taliban in control of Afghanistan threatens the possibility of terrorists taking control in Pakistan too. … If the whole country gets taken over by terrorists, that means maybe 150 nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists,” Bolton told host John Catsimatidis a WABC-AM interview on Thursday.
Bolton elaborated upon the threat in an Op-Ed in The Washington Post last month in which he said that Pakistan could become an extremist country in the aftermath of the fall of Afghanistan.
“For decades, Islamabad has recklessly pursued nuclear weapons and aided Islamist terrorism — threats that U.S. policymakers have consistently underestimated or mishandled. With Kabul’s fall, the time for neglect or equivocation is over,” he wrote.
The Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan elevates the risk that Pakistani extremists will increase influence, or threaten to seize control. Pakistan could have well over 100 nuclear weapons, which in the hands of an extremist regime is an unthinkable threat. https://t.co/kueRiCB6zH
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 24, 2021
“The Taliban’s takeover next door immediately poses the sharply higher risk that Pakistani extremists will increase their already sizable influence in Islamabad, threatening at some point to seize full control,” he wrote.
Bolton said the nuclear threat could be even worse than that from Iran.
“While Iran still aspires only to nuclear weapons, Pakistan already has dozens, perhaps more than 150, according to public sources,” the former national security advisor wrote.
“Such weapons in the hands of an extremist Pakistan would dramatically imperil India, raising tensions in the region to unprecedented levels, especially given China’s central role in Islamabad’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs,” he said. “Moreover, the prospect that Pakistan could slip individual warheads to terrorist groups to detonate anywhere in the world would make a new 9/11 incomparably more deadly.”
Bolton said the United States must ensure Pakistan does not become either an ally or a client of the Taliban.
“Acknowledging the enormous uncertainty, given Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, the United States must now come down hard on Islamabad if it continues supporting the Taliban and other terrorists,” he wrote.
America must also avert a potential disaster, Bolton said.
“Most important, we must devote maximum attention to Pakistan’s nuclear stockpiles and weapons-production facilities. If a future terrorist regime in Islamabad (or even today’s government or like-minded successors) appears ready to transfer nuclear capabilities to terrorists, we should take preventive action,” he wrote.
Bolton, who was national security advisor to former President Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019, said during his Sunday interview that President Joe Biden embarrassed himself and the nation with his bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Allies are “wondering if he has a grip on his own administration’s foreign policy,” Bolton said in the Aug. 23 Op-Ed.
He said China is more of a threat than the Biden administration seems to understand.
“China, which already has a lot of influence in Pakistan, is going to increase its influence and put more pressure on India. This is a big development in that part of the world,” Bolton wrote.
“I think the United States must look at China and the threat it poses across the board. They’ve been stealing our intellectual property for decades … They discriminate against foreign companies and investors. They manipulate the World Trade Organization. They are building up their military… And they are very aggressive politically,” he said.
“The United States needs to come to grips with this threat … and needs to be prepared for a long struggle across the full spectrum of potential power — economic, political and military. …
“I don’t think the administration is focused.”
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