Pakistan rejects fears over n-weapons

Friday, 3 December 2010 00:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(REUTERS) - Pakistan on Wednesday dismissed Western concerns over the security of its nuclear weapons programme following the publication of more U.S. State Department cables by anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks.

A fresh cache of U.S. diplomatic cables released Tuesday and Wednesday show widespread concern about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons with worries stretching from Washington to Riyadh to Moscow.

A senior Pakistani government official familiar with his country’s nuclear weapons programme waved off Western handwringing.

“They (the weapons) are secured. That’s it. No matter whatever point of view anybody else has,” he said.

A senior official in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency said the country’s nuclear weapons were “the safest,” and that spent fuel rods in the nuclear reactors were “safe and secure.”

“Your planes have had accidents and lost nuclear bombs at sea,” he said. “I think it is the Bible that says:’Physician, heal thyself first.’”

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s office, in a statement issued after a meeting with the new U.S. ambassador, Cameron Munter, said the revelations would not “ have any effect on the strong, strategic partnership between Pakistan and the USA, as both sides were resolute to address the misperceptions in the interest of long-term cordial bilateral relations”. WikiLeaks shook the diplomatic world on Monday when it published reports from more than 250,000 confidential cables in partnership with five Western newspapers, including The New York Times and the Guardian in Britain.

The nuclear concerns are wide-ranging.