Pak `fastest producer` of nukes

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 12:08

London: The latest cache of WikiLeaks lays
bare the deep concern of the US over the safety of Pakistan`s nuclear weapons and the fact that Islamabad is producing them at a "faster rate than any other country in the world".

Painting a damning picture of its "ally", American
officials expressed serious misgivings about the possibility
of elements within the Pakistan establishment smuggling enough
material out to eventually make a rogue nuclear weapon.

The Pakistan-focussed cache of US embassy cables
published by The Guardian reveal American and British
diplomats fear that Pakistan`s nuclear weapons programme could
lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists
or a devastating nuclear exchange with India.

The cables contain warnings that Pakistan is rapidly
building its nuclear stockpile despite the country`s growing
instability and "pending economic catastrophe".

Mariot Leslie, a senior British Foreign Office official,
told US diplomats in September 2009: "The UK has deep concerns
about the safety and security of Pakistan`s nuclear weapons,"
according to one cable classified "secret/noforn [no foreign
nationals]".

Seven months earlier, the US ambassador to Islamabad,
Anne Patterson, cabled to Washington: "Our major concern is
not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but
rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan
facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to
eventually make a weapon".

The cables revealing serious tension between the US and
Pakistan reveal that small teams of US special forces have
been operating secretly inside Pakistan`s tribal areas, with
the approval of the Pakistani government while senior
ministers have privately supported American drone attacks.

The US ambassador starkly informed Washington that "no
amount of money" from the US would stop the Pakistani army
backing Islamist militants and the Afghan Taliban insurgency,
according to the cables.
The Guardian reported the US` conclusion that Pakistani
troops were responsible for a spate of extra-judicial killings
in the Swat Valley and tribal belt but decided not to comment
publicly to allow the army to take action on its own.

Pakistan`s rulers are so sensitive about their much-
prized nuclear weapons that in July 2009 they stalled on a
previously agreed plan for the US to recover and dispose of
highly enriched uranium spent fuel from a nuclear research
reactor, in the interests of preventing proliferation and
theft.
US concern over Pakistan`s bomb programme was spelled out
in an intelligence briefing in 2008.

"Despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is
producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other
country in the world," the secret cable said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 12:08

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