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Not involved in ‘Nuclear’ race with India: Pak ambassador

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani (L) speaks with the media as his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai looks on during their joint news conference in New Delhi July 5, 2012. Rivals India and Pakistan agreed on Thursday to press on with talks aimed at normalising relations, seeking to repair ties shattered by a militant rampage in Mumbai four years ago that New Delhi says were orchestrated from Pakistan. REUTERS/B Mathur (INDIA - Tags: POLITICS)

Lahore: Rejecting the perception that Islamabad is engaged in a nuclear race with New Delhi, Pakistan’s envoy in Washington Jalil Abbas Jilani said that the nation did not have a reckless nuclear strategy.

“It is disingenuous to create a perception that Pakis­tan has some grand strategy to recklessly build a nuclear arsenal to its own and the region’s peril,” the Dawn quoted Jilani as saying.

The upcoming Nuclear Summit in Washington, which is the fourth and final of President Barack Obama’s administration has brought focus on Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons because of its agenda.

This led to a series of stories in the US media, claiming that terrorists could only access nuclear weapons in Pakistan because it is making small-sized (tactical) weapons and also because terrorists are actively fighting government forces in that country.

However, Ambassador Jilani speaking to Dawn, rejected the claim that Pakistan had the fastest growing nuclear arsenal as a “misplaced opinion based on theoretical assumptions”.

“The oft-paddled opinions on so-called tactical nuclear weapons are off the mark. Pakistan’s short-range missile is not a unique weapon system in South Asia. India also has such missiles for tactical use in the battlefield,” he said.

Pointing out that last week India tested a long range submarine launched missile, Jilani said that it demonstrated the India has operationalised a nuclear triad.

“India arms imports, according to a Stockholm think-tank, increased by 90 per cent over the past five years as compared to previous five years. India tops this unprecedented level of armament with war fighting doctrines such as cold start to win a war below nuclear threshold.” He added.

Jilani asserted that concerns about a nuclear race in South Asia could be resolved if India agreed to start a dialogue with Pakistan on a Strategic Restraint Regime.

“India has refused to consider this long-standing proposal by Pakistan. The ball is now in India’s court. Our troubled history with India, potential of outstanding conflicts to create tensions, deep-seated mistrust and India’s continued accumulation of conventional and nuclear capabilities leave Pakistan with no option but to invest in its own nuclear capability for defence,” he added.

The ambassador pointed out that India separated weapon-grade plutonium in 1964, 22 years before Pakistan could even enrich uranium.

If the assumptions applied to Pakistan were also applied to India, it would show that New Delhi has “a much larger nuclear arsenal” and is “moving towards MIRVs (a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle), which is ostensibly a destabilising move,” Jilani said.

“The country having the largest nuclear programme outside Non-Proliferation Treaty Regime is India and it continues to follow a maximalist approach in expanding its nuclear arsenal,” he added.

Jilani also urged the international community to note that a significant portion of India’s nuclear programme was outside any safeguards.

Quoting from a recent report by the Institute of Science and International Studies, Washington, he claimed that India had 32 tons of plutonium in spent fuel along with reprocessing plants without safeguards.

“Availability of significant amounts of unsafeguarded nuclear materials and unsafeguarded reprocessing plants requires no further imagination to understand its likely military use,” Ambassador Jilani said. (ANI)