Pakistan says it has capability to defend strategic assets

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Islamabad, Nov 12 (UNI) Pakistan has made it clear that it possesses adequate retaliatory capacity to defend its strategic assets and sovereignty.

''Reports about safety of Pakistan's strategic assets appear off and on and we emphatically reject the contention that there is any danger of our strategic assets falling in wrong hands,'' Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said.

He was commenting on international media reports on the issue at a press briefing here today.

A Washington Report said the US has developed contingency plans to safeguard Pakistani nuclear assets if the current political turmoil allows extremists to get hold of the weapons.

The report, however, pointed out that US officials have limited knowledge about the location of the arsenal, which could pose a problem.

''Reports on external contingency plans about Pakistan's nuclear assets are irresponsible conjectures,'' Sadiq added.

He pointed out that Pakistan's strategic assets are as safe as that of any other nuclear weapons state.

The spokesman pointed out that the report itself recognises that Pakistan's nuclear programme and assets are well protected.

He said if CIA and other US agencies do not know the whereabouts of our strategic assets despite latest technology and immense resources, then it is ridiculous to say that extremists or terrorists sitting in mountains could find them out and get hold of them.

He further said such reports are inspired by those who cannot see a country like Pakistan having nuclear capability, technology or nuclear weapons system.

The spokesman said the highest level of institutionalised protection is accorded to Pakistan's strategic assets to ensure their safety and security.

''They (assets) are under strong multi-layered, institutionalised decision making, organisational, administrative, command and control structures since 1998,'' he added.

Consistent with its obligations as a nuclear weapons state, Pakistan had formally instituted an elaborate Nuclear Command and Control mechanism in February 2000 that comprises National Command Authority, Strategic Plans Division and Strategic Forces. This foolproof mechanism is fully effective, he said.

UNI

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