US worried over increased risks of Pak nuke theft due to expanding nuclear programme

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Washington, May 28 (ANI): The United States is concerned over reports about both Pakistan and India expanding their nuclear programmes, and the possible threats this may pose in Pakistan's nukes falling into the hands of extremists.

While Pakistan is working hard to develop warheads for ballistic missiles and cruise missiles that could be launched from ships, submarines or aircraft, India on the other hand, is busy in developing cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads.

Indian scientists are also busy in re-designing its Agni ballistic missiles to make it capable of carrying nuclear warheads and could be deployed on submarines.

The recent nuclear test conducted by North Korean has aggravated Washington's concern about the arms race in the region.

The United States is primarily concerned by the reports that Pakistan is rapidly adding onto its stockpile of nuclear arsenals, and the increased risk of it falling into the Taliban's hands, The Washington Post reports.

"More vulnerabilities. More stuff in production. More stuff in transit, when it is more vulnerable to theft," said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, former CIA's official on weapons of mass destruction and the Energy Department's director of intelligence.

It may be noted that former weapons inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) David Albright recently had claimed that two plutonium-producing reactors in Pakistan are nearing completion at Khushab, about 160 miles south-west of the capital, Islamabad.

Albright said commercial satellite pictures of the region prove that Pakistan is expanding its nuclear capability.

The Khushab reactors are situated near the border of Punjab and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where the military and the Taliban are engaged in heavy confrontation.

Beside, the Khusab reactors, the terror threat also looms large over the Gadwal uranium enrichment plant, especially after an incident when a suicide bomber had blown himself up outside the Kamra complex in 2007.

John Bolton, a hawkish former senior official in the Bush administration, had recently also expressed concerns over the safety of these nuclear facilities.

The United States believes that a more global approach is needed while appealing the two countries to slow down their weapon race.

"We have to think of dealing with the South Asian problem not on a purely regional basis, but in the context of a more global approach," said Gary Samore, senior White House Nonproliferation Adviser.

"Pakistani government has always said they will do that in conjunction with India. The Indians have always said,we can't take steps unless similar steps are taken by China and the other nuclear states, and very quickly you end up with a situation where it's hard to make progress," Samore added. (ANI)

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