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Pakistan rules out sharing nukes with Saudis, anyone else

WASHINGTON:  Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Thursday strongly  denied speculations that  Pakistan could sell Saudi Arabia an “off-the-shelf” nuclear weapon.

After meetings at the White House, Pentagon and State Department, Aizaz Chaudhry described the suggestions Pakistan could sell a weapon as “unfounded, baseless and untrue.”

“Pakistan´s nuclear program has nothing to do with any other country,” he told reporters. “This is a deterrence that we developed in response to a threat perception that we have from our east. That´s it.”

Aizaz Chaudhry said the atomic arsenal would continue serving solely for Pakistan’s national defense even as world powers and Iran near a possible nuclear agreement.

American and other intelligence services have been taking seriously the threat of Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries potentially seeking the Muslim country’s help in matching Iran’s nuclear capabilities, even if the US says there is no evidence of such action right now.

“Pakistan is not talking to Saudi Arabia on nuclear issues, period,” Chaudhry insisted. The arsenal, believed to be in excess of 100 weapons, is focused only on Pakistan’s threat perception from “the East” Chaudhry said, a clear reference to long-standing rival and fellow nuclear power India.

Chaudhry said his country has significantly cracked down in recent years on proliferation, improving its export controls and providing UN nuclear monitors with all necessary information. Pakistan also won’t allow any weapons to reach terrorists, he said.

Pakistan detonated its first nuclear weapons in 1998, shortly after India did.

Chaudhry was in the American capital for a US-Pakistan strategic dialogue and meetings with several senior diplomatic and military officials. The State Department said Wednesday the agenda included “international efforts to enhance nuclear security” as well as nonproliferation and export controls.

It described the discussions as “productive” and said the governments would work together to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking to reporters, Chaudhry praised the progress thus far in the Iran nuclear talks. He told reporters that a diplomatic success would have significant economic benefits for Pakistan, allowing it to complete a long-sought gas pipeline project with its neighbor to the west.

INP

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