Pakistan, India to exchange n-facilities lists Thursday

December 31st, 2008 - 7:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Benazir BhuttoIslamabad, Dec 31 (IANS) Despite the current tension in their ties, India and Pakistan will exchange lists of their nuclear facilities on New Year’s day just as they have been doing for over a decade.An official in the Pakistan foreign office said the lists will be simultaneously exchanged in Islamabad and New Delhi through diplomatic channels. He said the lists are revised every year.

The official of the Indian Ministry for External Affairs will hand over the documents to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi while a Pakistani official from the Foreign Ministry will give the list to the Indian High Commission.

The agreement to exchange the lists was signed in 1988 between the then prime ministers - Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto.

The agreement was ratified by both countries and implemented in January 1991. The agreement requires an annual exchange of lists detailing the location of all nuclear-related facilities in each country. The measure further pledges both sides will not attack the listed facilities.

The lists are being exchanged since 1992 but experts feel both countries may still keep some facilities secret, though these lists have nave been made public.

According to the official, the exchange of lists has never stopped and even in 2001, when both the countries were in the state of high alert, Pakistan and India exchanged the nuclear facilities’ list while reiterating that they won’t attack each other’s atomic installations.

Commenting on whether any new installations have been added to the list by Pakistan, the official said: “No new facility (in Pakistan) has been installed in the year 2008.”

Asked whether Pakistan would go for the nuclear option if war breaks out, the official said nuclear weapons were weapons of defence and deterrence. He said the use of nuclear weapons was too serious an issue to be taken lightly. “This is a grave issue and it should not be lightly discussed.”

Experts say that it is difficult to determine the actual size and composition of nuclear arsenals of both the countries, but many estimate that both countries have a total of about 100 to 125 weapons

After India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998, experts have debated whether their nuclear weapons contribute to stability in South Asia. Experts who argue that the nuclear standoff promotes stability have pointed to the Cold War as an example of how deterrence ensures military restraint.

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