Pak dismisses report on nuclear arsenal expansion

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 1 (PTI) Pakistan is "mindful of theneed to avoid an arms race with India" but will nevercompromise on its national security, the Foreign Office saidtoday while dismissing a Western media report that it hadsignificantly expanded its nuclear arsenal in recent years.

Without referring to the civil nuclear deal concludedby India and the US, the Foreign Office also sought tohighlight the "adverse implications of ''selectivity'' and''exceptionalism''" on issues of nuclear non-proliferation.

Reacting to a report in The New York Times thatPakistan had steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal and was setto overtake Britain as the world�s fifth largest nuclearweapons power, the Foreign Office contended this was part ofthe "unnecessary alarmist reporting about Pakistan�s nuclearprogramme".

"In the nuclearised environment of South Asia,Pakistan continues to follow a responsible policy ofmaintaining credible minimum deterrence. Pakistan is mindfulof the need to avoid an arms race with India but would nevercompromise on its national security," said Foreign Officespokesman Abdul Basit.

"Pakistan attaches importance to ensuring peace,security and stability in South Asia and is mindful of theadverse implications of ''selectivity'' and ''exceptionalism'' inevidence on issues of nuclear non-proliferation," he said.

Basit noted that Pakistan had "consistently advocatedto India the need to resume the stalled Pakistan-Indiadialogue, including on issues of peace and security".

"In this context, Pakistan�s proposal for a strategicrestraint regime in South Asia, including nuclear andconventional forces, as well as resolution of all issues anddisputes is of extreme importance," he added.

The New York Times reported the US intelligenceassessments about the expansion of Pakistan''s nuclear arsenalpose "a direct challenge to a central element of (PresidentBarack Obama�s) national security strategy, the reduction ofnuclear stockpiles around the world".

Pakistan�s determination to add considerably to itsarsenal, mostly to deter India, has become "yet anotherirritant" in Islamabad�s "often testy relationship" withWashington, particularly as Islamabad seeks to block Obama�srenewed efforts to negotiate a global treaty that would banthe production of new nuclear material, the report said. PTIRHL

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