Pakistan wants spot in nuclear club

Afp June 24, 2010

WASHINGTON: Asserting that its nuclear programme guarantees regional stability and meets strict safety standards, Pakistan has called for its inclusion into the group of international nuclear states.

Islamabad’s nuclear program was “initiated and developed in response to regional asymmetry in both conventional and nuclear arms, and is now a source of regional stability,” said Minister for Press at the Pakistan High commission, Imran Gardezi. The minister for press added that the international community should recognise certain facts about Pakistan’s nuclear program, which is based on minimum deterrence and self-defence, and is here to stay.

“It is in the interest of regional and global peace, that Pakistan be admitted into the fold of nuclear states,” he advocated in a letter published in the latest issue of the Foreign Affairs magazine.

In a rejoinder to Graham Allison’s “hypothetical conjecture” in an article fueling concerns about Pakistani nuclear weapons, the official pointed out that international regulatory authorities have already acknowledged the efficacy of Pakistan’s comprehensive command and control structure.              These steps, he said, have made the country’s nuclear assets “impervious to any threat, internal or external.”

Over the past decade, the government has instituted many advanced security mechanisms from tightened physical safety to technical controls of the nuclear weapons themselves, Gardezi added.

The press minister also cited the introduction of a “multilayered foolproof system of internal monitoring,” in the wake of activities of the A Q Khan network.

With regard to concerns aired on the possibility of the weapons falling into hands of militants hiding in its northwestern regions, the Press Minister said, “even the most cursory knowledge of how nuclear states maintain their arsenals would make alarmists understand that extremists could not possibly come to possess a nuclear weapon nor could non-state actors acquire such a device or the requisite delivery system.”         Moreover, he reminded that the Pakistan army has recently carried out successful operations in Malakand, the Swat valley and Waziristan, putting the most feared extremists on the run.

“Pakistan stands committed to non-proliferation and disarmament and has taken effective measures to meet its international obligations,” the minister added.

The government’s wide-ranging regulatory instruments prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to any state, Gardezi wrote.         In addition, Pakistan continues to cooperate voluntarily with the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding its civil nuclear program, he stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2010.


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