US envoy Patterson denies any intention to seize Pak nuclear arsenal

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Washington, Nov 9 (ANI): US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson has said the US had no intention of seizing the country's nukes, after media reports suggested that Washington has been negotiating highly sensitive understandings with the Pakistani Army about the security of the country's nuclear arsenal.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported in the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine that during meetings with current and former officials in Washington and Pakistan, he was told that the agreements would allow specially trained American units to provide added security for the Pakistani arsenal in case of a crisis.

At the same time, the Pakistani military would be given money to equip and train Pakistani soldiers and improve their housing and facilities, says the report.

The Daily Times quoted Patterson as saying that Pakistan was capable of securing its own nuclear weapons.

"These allegations are completely false. The United States has no intention to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons or material," she said.

"Pakistan is a key ally in our common effort to fight violent extremists and foster regional security. We work cooperatively on a wide range of security assistance initiatives, including significant efforts focused on strengthening counterinsurgency capacities to foster stability," Patterson added.

The principal fear in the US is that "extremists inside the military might stage a coup, take control of some nuclear assets, or even divert a warhead", notes Hersh.

The report says that the arrangement serves as a safeguard in case of a quickly escalating confrontation with India, but also makes the weapons vulnerable during shipment and reassembly.

Meanwhile, former president Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that his government had given US State Department non-proliferation experts insight into the command-and-control of the Pakistani arsenal and its on-site safety and security procedures, says the report. (ANI)

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