Washington, May 18 (ANI): Amid political turbulence in Pakistan, and heightened fears about the Taliban and other extremist groups seizing the country's nuclear assets, there has been a rapid expansion of Islamabad's nuclear armaments.
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, in a confidential briefing, told members of Congress that there are certain reports which confirm that Islamabad is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal.
When enquired whether he had seen evidence of an increase in the size of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, Admiral Mullen just said: "Yes".
This certainly raises questions over the proposed billions of dollars of US military assistance to Pakistan that might be sidetracked to expand its nuclear capability rather than utilizing it to counter insurgency.
Officials of the Obama administration have said that they had communicated to Congress that their intent was to assure that military aid to Pakistan was directed toward counterterrorism and not diverted, The New York Times reports.
Now, that Washington has 'officially' admitted that Pakistan is expanding its nuclear activities, it still remains to be seen whether it would reduce or delay the aid to Islamabad promised earlier.
The US Congress is considering proposals to spend 3 billion dollars over the next five years to train and equip Pakistan's military for counterinsurgency warfare. This is in addition to 7.5 billion dollars that the Capitol Hill has promised in civilian assistance.
However, the United States still does not have any detail about the dimensions of Pakistan's nuclear expansion programmes.
"We see them scaling up their centrifuge facilities," President of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright said.
Albright blamed the previous US regime for the problem which might aggravate the already tense situation of South-Asia.
"The Bush administration turned a blind eye to how this is being ramped up.And of course, with enough pressure, all this could be preventable," he said.
Senators were of the view that unless Pakistan commit to fight and eliminate insurgents completely, and pursue its objectives sincerely, the hefty aid being offered would serve no purpose.
"Unless Pakistan's leaders commit, in deeds and words, their country's armed forces and security personnel to eliminating the threat from militant extremists, and unless they make it clear that they are doing so, for the sake of their own future, then no amount of assistance will be effective," Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin said.(ANI)