Zardari says Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are safe (Lead)

May 6th, 2009 - 11:23 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 6 (IANS) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has claimed that his country’s nuclear weapons are safe, rejecting US concerns that some of these weapons are at risk of being acquired by members of the Taliban.

“They are in safe hands,” Zardari told CNN in an interview Tuesday.

The comments come two days after the New York Times reported senior American officials are increasingly worried Taliban militants could acquire unsecured weapons in Pakistan’s arsenal.

Zardari said the region is not at risk of falling into the Taliban’s control. “We have a 700,000 (man) army. How could they take over?” he said.

Zardari also brushed aside US concerns that Taliban sympathisers within Pakistan’s army could help the terrorist organisation acquire some of the country’s nuclear weapons.

“There aren’t any, sir, sympathisers for them,” he said. “There is a mindset in the local area maybe who feel they are akin to the same religion, God, etc, etc. But nothing that should concern anybody as far as the nuclear arsenal or other instruments of such sort.”

Zardari also reacted to the New York Times’ report that Pakistani officials have repeatedly denied American requests for more information on the location of the country’s nuclear weapons.

“I think it’s on a need-to-know basis information,” he said of the weapons’ location. “If it comes up we might and I might not share it with them, it depends.”

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