Pakistan says nukes are safe

2010-12-14 22:47

Islamabad - Pakistan insisted on Tuesday its nuclear weapons were fully safe and secure and it would not accept any "discriminatory treatment" that undermined its strategic deterrence.

A cache of US diplomatic cables released recently showed widespread international concern about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

The cables released by WikiLeaks said that the United States had been secretly trying to convince Pakistan to allow it to remove the uranium because of fears the nuclear material might be stolen or diverted, but Pakistan turned down the request.

Pakistan's nuclear watchdog said that its security measures were second to none.

"As a nuclear weapon state, Pakistan is fully cognisant of its responsibilities, and has established effective and robust command and control structures and comprehensive export control and regulatory regimes," the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) said in a statement after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

"These (safety measures) are fully compatible with international best practices and global regimes - and are acknowledged internationally."

Pakistan, which tested its nuclear device in May 1998 days after similar tests by rival India, is a major US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban but its western allies have repeatedly raised concerns over its stability.

Nuclear agreement

In a September 2009 cable, Britain expressed "deep concerns" about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and said China - which helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power generation facility - could play a role in stabilising Pakistan.

The statement by NCA came two days ahead of the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to India and Pakistan.

Pakistan wants a civilian nuclear agreement with the United States similar to the US agreement struck with India in 2008, but Washington has been reluctant to do so partly because of concerns over the case of Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who transferred nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

In a thinly veiled reference to the US-India nuclear deal, the NCA expressed concerns over "policies and trends of selectivity, exceptionalism and discrimination relating to strategic export control regimes".

"The NCA categorically reiterated that Pakistan will never accept discriminatory treatment and that it rejects any effort to undermine its strategic deterrence."