India, Pakistan swap nuclear lists amid Mumbai tensions (Lead)

January 1st, 2009 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Islamabad, Jan 1 (IANS) Amid simmering tensions over the Mumbai terror attacks, India and Pakistan Thursday stuck to their nearly two-decade old agreement of exchanging lists of their nuclear installations on the first day of the new year - a practice aimed at protecting the sites in case of a war. The Indian side handed over its list to an official of the Pakistan High Commission at the external affairs ministry in New Delhi. The Pakistan Foreign Office handed over a list of Pakistan’s nuclear installations and facilities to an official of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

The two sides also are understood to have exchanged fresh lists of prisoners being held in each other’s jails.

The two sides exchange the lists of their atomic facilities on Jan 1 every year under the “Agreement between India and Pakistan on Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities” that was signed Dec 31, 1988 and ratified in 1991.

The composite dialogue between the two nuclear-armed neighbours has been frozen since the Nov 26-29 terror strikes in Mumbai, for which India blames elements in Pakistan like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group that is suspected of having masterminded the Mumbai carnage.

But the two sides decided to stick to the decades-old nuclear confidence-building measure to quell speculation about a sub-continental war.

More than three years ago, the two sides also formalised an agreement on pre-notification of ballistic missile tests.

India has made it clear to Pakistan that it will not resume the peace process unless Islamabad dismantles what New Delhi calls the “terror infrastructure” in that country.

Pakistan has been in denial mode, but with international pressure growing Islamabad may be forced to take action against suspected Mumbai masterminds sheltering in its territory.

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