Obama admn asked to ensure Pak doesn`t use aid for N-programme

Last Updated: Saturday, February 19, 2011 - 12:41

Washington: Voicing serious concerns over
the increasing nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, a top US Senator
has sought a clear assurance from the Obama administration
that the American aid money is not used by Islamabad to fund
its atomic weapons programme.

In a joint letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
and Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Virginia Senator Jim Webb
threatened that in the absence of such an assurance, he would
introduce a legislation in the Congress that would "require a
certification" from the administration that US funds are not
used by Pakistan for its nuclear weapons programme.
"Published reports indicate that Pakistan has steadily
increased its nuclear arsenal over the past two years, putting
it on a path to overtake Britain as the world`s fifth largest
nuclear weapons power," Webb, a Democrat, wrote in the
February 17 letter to Clinton and Gates released to the media
yesterday.

"I am writing to restate my concern that no US funds
appropriated for assistance to Pakistan be used to support,
expand or assist the government of Pakistan in the development
of its nuclear weapons," he wrote.
In the absence of such clear assurances from the
administration, Webb said he would be compelled to
re-introduce the legislative amendment he had introduced in
this regard in 2009.

Two years ago, Webb, a member of the Senate Committee on
Armed Services and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2009 Supplemental
Appropriations Act that would have required certification that
no funds appropriated for assistance to Pakistan would be used
to advance programmes outside of direct US security interests,

Following assurances of greater transparency and
accountability from administration officials, including
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen
during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Webb
decided not to pursue the amendment.

"Recent press reports on Pakistan`s nuclear weapons
programme are troubling," Webb said in his letter. "Just last
week, the Washington Post reported that Pakistan has begun
work on what appears to be a fourth plutonium-producing
reactor, another signal that Pakistan continues ambitious
efforts to modernise and expand its nuclear weapons."

"I am writing to restate my concern that no US funds
appropriated for assistance to Pakistan be used to support,
expand, or assist the Government of Pakistan in the
development of its nuclear weapons. Absent clear assurances
that this is not the case, I will feel compelled to
re-introduce the amendment I offered in 2009," Webb wrote.

There was no immediate reaction from the State
Department.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011 - 12:41

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