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India expresses concern over safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal

New Delhi, Sat, 24 Mar 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Mar.24 (ANI): India has expressed concern over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Sources said New Delhi has very little confidence about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal being in safe hands.

They further added that they anticipated an insider threat to the nuclear arsenal in the neighbouring country.

Last year, in May, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had voiced India's apprehension about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, saying it was a matter of global concern.

"Naturally, it is a concern not only for us but for everybody," Antony had told reporters in response to questions on whether the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was under threat in the wake of terror strikes such as the one on the Mehran naval air base in Karachi.

"Our services are taking all precautions and are ready round-the-clock. But at the same time we don't want to over-react," he had then added.

It maybe recalled that six Taliban militants had attacked the PNS Mehran base in Karachi, raising fresh concerns then about the safety of Pakistan's 70-100 nuclear weapons.

Some analysts then saw it as a blueprint for a raid on a nuclear base.

Security officials also said then that the attack might have been an inside job, spotlighting militant sympathizers within the ranks of Pakistan's military.

In November last year, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju had reiterated India's concern over the Taliban threat to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Pallam Raju raised doubts then on whether Pakistan was in a position to safeguard their nuclear assets.

Raju was speaking on the sidelines of a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) seminar in New Delhi.

According to the whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks, the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is a global concern. Several countries have voiced their fears.

Several cables between American embassies and Washington during a year-long period between mid 2008 and mid 2009 reveal that the U.S. had raised concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal with Pakistan and China and had sought to reassure a worried Russia.

At the end of June 2008, a visiting delegation of American lawmakers, led by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, brought the issue up at a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Gilani responded emphatically to Rep. McIntrye's question about nuclear security and stated that he wanted to 'dispel any image of perceived problems.'

He further elaborated, "We have control of the resources. These are not controlled by any one person and the political party process does not have any impact on nuclear security."

Russia was reportedly worried that after Pervez Musharraf's resignation, tensions between President Zardari and oppositionleader Nawaz Sharif would cause the current government to collapse.

In May 2009, the US embassy in Pakistan quoted Kamran Akhtar, the Disarmament Director in Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying that "the recent spate of media attention on Pakistan's nuclear security has led the GOP (Government of Pakistan) to delay an important non-proliferation effort, the removal of U.S.-origin highly-enriched uranium spent fuel from a Pakistani nuclear research reactor."

The cable noted that the Pakistan government had "agreed in principle to the fuel removal in 2007, but has been slow in scheduling a visit by U.S. technical experts to discuss logistical and other issues."

It also quoted Akhtar as saying that "the 'sensational' international and local media coverage of the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons made it impossible to proceed at this time.

It noted that the Pakistan government was "extremely sensitive to media focus on Pakistan's nuclear program.

Soon after, in July 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concern at a lack of response from China to US communication on "cases of missile-related proliferation."

Clinton asked Beijing to take action against nine firms, including some that were in various stages of supplying material that the US believed could be used for Pakistan's nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

Tension between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan have mounted since the U.S. operation to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Islamabad and New Delhi have traded barbs about each country's readiness to take on an attack from a neighbour or launch one.

The neighbours have fought three wars since 1947. (ANI)

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