The documentary film titled Countdown to Zero, which was released in 2010, argues that the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons has increased since the end of the cold war, due to terrorism and nuclear proliferation. The documentary film released in the US in mid-2010 and in London on June 21 this year, to coincide with the summit of Global Zero - the organisation that is the driving force behind the concept of destroying all nuclear weapons. The film features interviews with leading statesmen and experts, including Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev and Robert McNamara, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Valerie Plame Wilson and J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is the father of the 'atom bomb. I happened to attend a security seminar in London last week that was organised by Thomson Reuters Foundation, where a special screening of the film was arranged for the participants. Dr Bruce Blair, who is Co-Coordinator of Global Zero and President of the World Security Institute and an expert on US and Russian security policies, specialising in nuclear forces and command-control systems, and Matthew Brown introduced the film and fielded questions after the screening. The duo explained that the idea for the film occurred after watching Al Gores Nobel Peace Prize winning documentary about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. More than 84 people were interviewed for the film, including Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy (the peacenik) and former Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz from Pakistan. The film discusses the perils of nuclear weapons, the horror it wreaked in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the dangers that lurk ahead, if terrorist organisations get hold of nuclear weapons. In all fairness, various nuclear and radiation accidents at Chernobyl and America were discussed critically, including nuclear weapons disasters involving the US Air Force bombers, in which they either jettisoned their weapons with nuclear warheads or crashed or disappeared without a trace. When it came to Pakistan, Dr Abdul Qadir Khans network was flogged mercilessly, while a video footage showed Osama bin Laden negotiating with some unnamed Pakistani engineers and trying to obtain a nuclear weapon. In the Q&A session, Dr Blair expressed concern that Pakistan was on the brink of disintegration and in case its nuclear weapons fell into the hands of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, it would be a major disaster. So I took the opportunity and asked Dr Blair about the parameters on which he had based his conclusion that Pakistan was on the brink of disintegration. The 'honourable Dr Blair corrected himself and said that he meant that Pakistan was on the path of disintegration because of the state of its economy. My obvious retort was that the US was passing through one of the worst economic crunches in its history since the crash of 1929, why did he not conclude that the US is on the path of disintegration? He replied that the leaders of Pakistan were corrupt, to which my response was that a few corporate leaders and some politicians in the USA were, reportedly, corrupt and that is how they had brought about the current economic meltdown. When Dr Blair was speechless, I added that far from being on the brink or path of disintegration, the Pakistani nation is very resilient; it was passing through a temporary crisis and will certainly bounce back. As far as the security of Pakistans nuclear weapons is concerned, there is an operational and fully active nuclear command and control authority, which has put in place checks and balances that will ensure the safety of its nukes. Nuclear weapons are definitely not akin to tennis balls that can be hidden under ones armpits and stolen, and later lobbed at targets like hand grenades. They require a sophisticated technical knowhow, which is far beyond the capacity of the ragtag militia. At the same time, I pointed out the danger of nuclear thefts lurking in India, where the Naxalites are effective in 22 states and posing a clear and present danger. More so, they are operating in the Red Corridor of India that houses its nuclear facilities. Reportedly, Al-Qaeda has approached the insurgents to steal the nuclear assets from the Indian arsenal for them. (Surprisingly, Dr Blair was unaware of this threat.) Countdown to Zero may be a noble idea, but will only be effective if all the states agree to destroy their nuclear weapons in a credible manner and simultaneously. n The writer is a political and defence analyst.