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November 1, 2001
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Pak says fears of nukes falling in
extremist' hands imaginary

K J M Varma in Islamabad

Amidst growing international concern that its nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of Islamic extremists, Pakistan on Thursday said that the arsenals are fully secured and dismissed fears in this regard as "entirely imaginary."

"Pakistan has an impeccable record of custodial safety. Not a single incident has occurred so far of leakage of nuclear material, components or technology," Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told reporters.

"Also, Pakistan has constantly maintained, developed and upgraded command and control systems and custodial security procedures," he said adding that the country has invested requisite financial and personnel resources in order to devise and apply iron clad measures to deal with all contingencies of threat to strategic assets.

His comments came hours after Vienna-based International Atomic Energy expressed fears that Pakistan could become a source of hardware for Islamic terrorists planning to build nuclear weapons.

There was also a report in Newyorker magazine that US and Israeli troops are undergoing training to prevent Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Islamic extremists.

Sattar said well informed governments are aware that Islamabad maintains strong controls and safeguards of its nuclear weapons.

"Any apprehension that the assets might fall in the hands of extremists is entirely imaginary. It is a distortion caused by TV images magnifying the sites and sounds of protestors," he said.

Sattar said the safe custody and storage of nuclear weapons and materials was ensured by dedicated formations of specially trained and equipped forces.

A strategic force command has been established for each of the three armed services, he said and adding that clear chains of responsibility have also been entrusted to ensure that weapons were not used without due authorisation.

Meanwhile, leader of the Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, alleged that capturing Pakistan's nuclear installations was the main intention of the United States, Britain and Israel and asked all Muslims to defend the country's nuclear capability.

PTI

ALSO SEE:
Terrorists may target nuclear facilities: IAEA

America's War on Terror: The complete coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The complete coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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