Pakistan to retain nuclear deterrence: PM

May 16th, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 16 (IANS) Dismissing apprehensions about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani Saturday said they formed the cornerstone of the country’s deterrence strategy and would be retained at all costs.
“No amount of coercion, direct or indirect, will ever force Pakistan to compromise on its core security interest”, APP quoted Gilani as saying during a meeting of the central executive committee and the federal council of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.

He also deprecated the “orchestrated campaign” that had been launched by Pakistan’s detractors expressing doubts about the security of the country’s nuclear assets.

“The campaign has tried to link Pakistan’s internal situation with nuclear security in an attempt to discredit Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Disinformation is being spread deliberately to undermine Pakistan,” Gilani maintained.

According to the prime minister, Pakistan “has developed and operationlized an immaculate nuclear weapons security regime which is multilayered, has stringent access controls and incorporates modern technical solutions and rigorous human reliability programmes”.

Gilani also denied Western media reports saying that Pakistan had shared some but not all details of its nuclear programme with the US.

“No foreign individual, entity or state has been provided, or will ever be provided access to our sensitive information. Insinuations to the contrary are plain mischievous and designed to create doubts in the minds of the people of Pakistan,” the prime minister maintained.

Stratfor, the global intelligence company, said Wednesday the expanding Taliban insurgency in Pakistan “is rekindling concerns over the security of the country’s nuclear arsenal”.

“From all indications, the US comfort level over nuclear security in Pakistan is in part a reflection of India’s comfort level, and the emerging objectives of the Obama administration for Southwest Asia are to neutralise Al Qaeda prime and do whatever it can to help Pakistan secure its nuclear assets,” it said.

While Pakistan’s primary means of containing India were many of these very jihadist actors, Stratfor said Islamabad has long known that its nuclear weapons were the ultimate deterrent against a conventional war with its far more powerful regional rival.

Thus, since the early days of the Pakistani nuclear programme, the army has treated the nuclear assets as its most prized possession and has invested a great deal to protect it from both internal and external threats.

The view within the US intelligence community is that there is simply no sound way to independently assess the workings of the systems with any great certainty, it said.

This means Washington has to rely on what it is hearing from Islamabad about control over its nuclear facilities, and on unilaterally obtaining information from third-party intelligence sources and intelligence-sharing with other countries, such as India.

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