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Our nukes are secure, Pak tells the world

December 02, 2010 04:05 IST

Pakistan dismissed fears over the safety of its nuclear arsenal expressed by Western officials in secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, saying the custodial control mechanism for its strategic assets are foolproof.

The United States and the world community are aware that Pakistan's nuclear installations are well secured, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told the media. Pakistanis are a progressive and moderate nation and there is no question of nuclear installations or materials falling into the hands of militants, he said. The safety and custodial controls of Pakistan's nuclear assets are "foolproof" and the country's export control mechanism has "no loophole for any mishandling", Basit said.
"Their fears are misplaced and doubtless fall in the realm of condescension. There has not been a single incident involving our fissile material which clearly reflects how strong our controls and mechanisms are," Basit told the media in response to questions in the wake of disclosures byWikiLeaks.

Secret US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks quote American and Western diplomats as expressing concerns over Pakistan's uranium stockpile and the possibility of nuclear materials falling into the hands of extremists. Former US envoy Anne Patterson said one cable that the Pakistani government had stymied efforts to remove nuclear fuel supplied for a research reactor.

Pakistan has already said it refused to allow the US to remove the fuel. Basit said today that a "wrong impression" was being created following the release of cables by WikiLeaks that the US intended to take away Pakistan's entire stock of uranium "to paralyse its nuclear assets". The disclosures, he said, referred to a facility that the US provided to Pakistan in the 1960s under an agreement. He said half a century has passed and that fuel has already been consumed. "Our position is that we cannot return that fuel to theUS," he added.

Basit also said that no Western country had ever publicly expressed official concern regarding Pakistan's nuclear assets. Certain "anti-Pakistan lobbies" float such perceptions from time to time, he contended. Pakistan-US relations have made significant progress over the past two years and WikiLeaks' disclosures will have no impact on them, Basit said. "It is a fact that Pakistan and the US have differences in certain areas but both countries are committed to remove these differences through dialogue because they want to maintain good relations," he added.

Rezaul H Lashkar in Islamabad
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