Pak's insistence on India-type nuke deal may further strain testy ties with US

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Islamabad, Oct 16(ANI): Pakistan's renewed push to clinch a civilian nuclear deal with the United States threatens to further strain relations that are already tense over Islamabad's reluctance to go all out in the war on terror on its soil.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pakistan will again raise their demand for a deal- similar to one the US has with India - during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's meeting in Washington on October 22.

The Obama administration however is unlikely to give in to the demands, as it is concerned about Pakistan's previous history of proliferation and continued ramping up of its military nuclear arsenal.

A Pakistani official acknowledged that "expectations are very low" because the US "considers India its biggest ally. That's why our demand is rejected".

Experts believe that Islamabad views a civilian nuclear deal with the US as a key requirement to show that Pakistan is on the same level with India.

"Pakistan will always spend whatever it takes to build up as many nuclear weapons as possible due to animosity toward India", said George Perkovich, director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a U.S.-based think tank.

Earlier, it was reported that the Obama administration is disturbed by revelations that a row of cooling towers at Pakistan's secret Khushab-III reactor has been completed.

The project was revealed by satellite images obtained by Washington-based nuclear watchdog, the Institute for Science and International Security.

The cooling towers suggest the plant could begin operation within months, allowing Pakistan to substantially increase its stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium.

The US is also believed to be worried about China's plans to build two new nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

The deal between Pakistan and China bypasses Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) rules that bar sales of nuclear equipment to states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Khushab-III is the latest in a series of reactors built to feed Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme.

Khushab-II, located next to its new sister plant, became operational in February. (ANI)

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