Nothing sensational about Nuke cooperation with US: Pak

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Islamabad, Nov 20 (UNI) Pakistan today took strong exception to a foreign media report that the United States aided Pakistan in guarding its nuclear arsenals.

''A story in The New York Times gave distorted and exaggerated picture of our efforts to learn from best practices of other countries with regard to their nuclear safety and export controls,'' foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said here.

He added that as a responsible nuclear weapon state Pakistan has always attached great significance to the security of its strategic assets.

''These assets are completely safe and secure under multi-layered security and Command and Control structures that are fully indigenous,'' he stressed.

He pointed out that nuclear security is an area in which it is in everyone's interest to ensure that the best possible procedures are in place, adding that even the most advanced states continue to upgrade their systems and benefit from the experience of other countries.

''Accordingly, Pakistan and the US have been engaged in mutually agreeable cooperation which is essentially in the nature of rudimentary training and ideas to strength security and surveillance,'' the spokesman further said.

Similarly the equipment mentioned in the story for tracing nuclear material is of a basic nature and is needed to prevent smuggling of such materials from ports or other exit points.

''For the purpose of this cooperation, the red lines here have always been cleared which ensure that our control and safety procedures remain fully protected and secure,'' he added.

He made it clear that there is nothing sensational about the cooperation, as the New York Times story appears to imply.

The New York Times had reported on Saturday that over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost 100 million dollars on a highly classified programme to help Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf secure his country's nuclear weapons.

The newspaper had said a raft of equipment from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age.

UNI

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