April 14, 2010

          After a US study warned of a "very real possibility" that deadly warheads could be stolen by extremists singling out Pakistan as a likely source, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said his country's "nuclear weapons are safe and well-guarded".Trying to allay misgivings, Gilani said "Islamabad has taken effective steps for nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation through extensive legislative, regulatory and administrative framework".

    Harvard University released a study warning that four terror groups -- Al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Chechnya-based separatists and Japanese extremist group Aum Shinnko, were hunting for warheads.
The study, 'Securing the Bomb' conducted by the Belfer Centre of the University, and released today said that Al-Qaida was in the hunt for nuclear weapons for the last 10 years and had twice attempted to buy fissile material in black market.

          It said Pakistan faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other country on Earth. The new report from Harvard nonproliferation experts found that Pakistan's stockpile is the world's least secure.With Washington dependent on the Pakistani military to support it in the war in Afghanistan, an emboldened Pakistan has demanded a nuclear deal along the lines of the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement."Obviously, if Pakistan's cooperation is needed then Pakistan cannot at the same time be the victim, the target and at the same time a partner. People have to acknowledge the positive things that Pakistan has done and only then they can afford to have Pakistan's full and unqualified cooperation," said Brig. Naeem Salik, Former Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs, SPD, Pakistan.

         Despite all the rhetoric of a new strategic partnership between Islamabad and Washington, the much coveted prize of a civilian nuclear deal seems rather unlikely, but when PM Gilani takes the podium at the Nuclear Summit today he will have the world's attention.

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