US must press Pakistan to take US help to secure nukes: Senator

May 7th, 2009 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, May 7 (IANS) An influential US senator has asked President Barack Obama to press Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to accept more US help in securing his country’s nuclear arsenal and raw materials for chemical or biological weapons.
“He must convince President Zardari to accept more assistance and embrace cooperation,” said Richard Lugar, top Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a statement Wednesday.

“The deteriorating political and security situation in Pakistan has led many to question the potential threat of Pakistani weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands,” he said.

“President Obama must use this opportunity to gain clarification on the status and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, chemical weapons precursors, and pathogen samples,” said Lugar.

Lugar urged the expansion into Pakistan of the Nunn-Lugar counter-proliferation regime conceived at the fall of the Soviet Union to keep Moscow’s weapons out of the hands of rogue states or terrorists.

Lugar pointed to the global concern over the spread of so-called “swine flu” and underlined: “Imagine if the spread were intentional, not natural, and the virus’s lethality had been artificially enhanced.

“Pakistan has many dangerous diseases and pathogens under its control. The Nunn-Lugar programme can help secure the pathogen strains to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands,” he said.

“Equally important, the US can assist Pakistan in establishing a system designed to detect, characterise and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases,” he said.

Lugar and committee’s Democratic chairman John Kerry had Monday introduced the “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act” proposing tripling of US non-military aid to Pakistan with an annual $1.5 billion package for the next five years.

The two will host Zardari, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and US special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke at a luncheon meeting in the Capitol.

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