Thursday, May 26, 2011

NATO concerned about Pakistan nukes

An image of Khushab nuclear complex, located about 140 miles south of Islamabad

Source: Press TV

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed serious concerns about the security of Pakistani nuclear facilities amid growing militancy in the country.

Rasmussen said on Tuesday that NATO has the right to be concerned about the security of the violence-hit country.

"I feel confident that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is safe and well protected," said Rasmussen. "But of course it is a matter of concern and we follow the situation closely."

The security of Pakistan's nuclear facilities has been questioned by the Western military alliance following a recent militant attack on a naval base in southern port city of Karachi.

The militants set off several high intensity explosives and destroyed two surveillance aircraft in Karachi on Sunday night. Fighting continued into Monday morning.

Despite an offensive by the Pakistani government against pro-Taliban militants, they have spread their influence in various regions, killing people and security forces every day.

Western leaders fear Pakistan's nuclear weapons can fall into the hands of militants.

Senior officials in Islamabad have repeatedly dismissed such concerns, saying Pakistani nukes are in safe hands.

Analysts say the US and its Western allies are preparing the grounds for widespread military presence in Pakistan.

They also believe the US is looking for an excuse to expand its military operations in the troubled southern and central Asian regions to secure bases near Russia and China.

This comes as India and Pakistan have been locked in intense rivalry since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.

India and Pakistan have occasionally tested conventional and unconventional weapons over the past years.

New Delhi conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, followed by five more in 1998. Islamabad conducted its sixth nuclear tests in 1998.

Both neighbors have refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other international treaties that restrict the development or testing of nuclear weapons.

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