LONDON: John Bolton, former security advisor of ex-US President Donald Trump has warned Taliban have seized equipment abandoned by US troops in final days in Kabul. The Taliban could get their hands on up to 150 nuclear weapons after America’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In an interview with WABC 770 on Sunday, Bolton said it was possible the nuclear weapons could end up in the hands of the Taliban if the Islamists take control of Pakistan. ‘The Taliban in control of Afghanistan threatens the possibility of terrorists taking control of Pakistan … that means maybe 150 nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists,’ he said.
According to Daily Mail, New York Post and other world news outlets, Pakistan has an arsenal of approximately 160 nuclear warheads including 102 land-based missiles and F-16 combat aircrafts with 24 nuclear launchers.
The US completed a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31, leaving behind military equipment that has already been seized by the Taliban, after the Islamists swept to power in a lightning offensive of the country.
Bolton, who served under then President Donald Trump between April 2018 and September 2019, slammed Joe Biden’s management of the withdrawal, warning allies are ‘wondering if he has a grip on his own administration’s foreign policy.’
Biden and the White House have repeatedly insisted they were blindsided by the swept Taliban takeover because the Afghan security forces gave up so easily.
It led to scenes of chaos with thousands of Afghans swarming the airport as they desperately tried to flee the country before the Islamists imposed their rule.
Thousands gathered at the perimeter of Kabul airport – some standing in sewage, others attempting to scale the walls and many brandishing travel documents – as US soldiers attempted to control the chaos.
Early evacuation flights saw hundreds of young men sat on a fin below the US military’s plane’s turbine as it barrelled down the runway, only to then fall hundreds of feet to their deaths.
At least two people fell to their deaths from a C-17 on August 16 and the remains of another were discovered in the wheel well of the jet when it arrived in Qatar.
Videos captured snapshots of the chaos showed US soldiers being handed babies over barbed wire fences as desperate Afghans gathered at the edge of the airport.
Meanwhile other footage emerged of women pleading with US troops to let them onto an evacuation flight, telling them ‘the Taliban is coming’.
And days later a suicide explosion claimed by ISIS-K, an Islamic State offshoot based in Afghanistan’s Khorasan region, left 170 dead, including 13 US service members.
Biden later claimed the withdrawal was an ‘extraordinary success’ and local soldiers for the mess in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover – a claim the White House has repeated in recent weeks.
The President also laid the blame for the chaos on his predecessor Donald Trump for striking a peace deal in February 2020 with the Taliban. Trump’s peace deal had promised US withdrawal by May if the Taliban did not harbor terrorists or attack US forces or allies.
Bolton’s warning comes after the Taliban seized much of the equipment abandoned by the US during the chaotic end to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Days after the withdrawal ended, the Taliban paraded dozens of US-made armored vehicles and weaponry captured from Afghan forces during the group’s takeover.
One event, in the southern city of Kandahar, even featured a fly-past from a Black Hawk helicopter flying the flag of the Taliban.
Meanwhile a long line of green Humvees and armoured fighting vehicles drove in single file along a highway outside Kandahar – the spiritual birthplace of the militant group. Many of the vehicles had the white and black Taliban flag attached to them.
Footage posted on social media showed a helicopter flying overhead trailing the Taliban’s standard behind it as fighters waved from below.