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Nobody would dispute the danger inherent in possessing nuclear assets. But that danger becomes far more acute in a combat zone, where nuclear materials and weapons are at risk of theft, and reactors can become bombing targets. These risks – which are most apparent in today's chaos-ridden Middle East – raise troubling questions about the security of nuclear assets in volatile countries everywhere.Pakistan has a large nuclear weapons program and faces an expansive jihadist insurgency, which previously attacked military bases that were suspected of housing nuclear assets.If a power struggle emerges, the large Bushehr reactor could be used as a bargaining chip.To mitigate such risks, the international community could maintain its traditional policy of sitting tight and hoping that governments retain control of their nuclear infrastructure. Such plans, however, are by no means foolproof – not least owing to the difficulties of finding concealed nuclear assets and safeguarding reactors. Instead of waiting for a major development to force hurried action, the world's major powers should engage in a full-throated debate to determine the best approach to addressing nuclear risks in volatile countries, seeking ways to cooperate whenever necessary.
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