US aid won’t fund Pakistani nuclear expansion: Clinton

May 21st, 2009 - 11:09 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Washington, May 21 (IANS) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sought to reassure US lawmakers that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure and that American aid money won’t be diverted to produce even more nuclear weapons.
The issue of Pakistan increasing its nuclear weapons stockpile was raised by Democrat Patrick Leahy as he chaired a hearing of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday.

“Are we just giving them money, which is after all fungible, and is going into not fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which are groups that are destabilising that country more and more all the time, but rather is that money just going into the nuclear programme?” Leahy asked.

“I think that there is no basis for believing that any of the money that we are providing will be diverted into the nuclear programme,” Clinton replied adding, the United States stands ready to assist Pakistan in protecting its nuclear arsenal.

“We are assured by the Pakistani military and the government that they have control over their nuclear weapons at this time and we have offered and continue to work with them in any way that they deem appropriate to help them assure the safety and security of those weapons.”

“I do not see that as an immediate threat but it is certainly one we take very seriously,” Clinton said.

Her comments came as a Washington based arms control group, the Institute for Science and International Security, released a report accusing Pakistan of expanding its nuclear weapons programme.

The satellite photos it said show expansion of “Pakistan’s key military and civilian fuel cycle site near Dera Ghazi Khan.”

Clinton also told lawmakers on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee that there had been dramatic changes in Pakistan since she testified in a hearing last month about the inability or unwillingness of the Pakistani government to take on the Taliban.

“That has turned around,” Clinton said. “What we see now is an all-out effort by the Pakistani military to take back territory that had been seized by the Taliban.”

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