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10,000 men guarding Pakistan's nuclear arsenal: official

world Updated: May 28, 2009 14:08 IST

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About 10,000 security personnel are guarding Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and Western fears about the safety of the weapons are unfounded, a senior official has said.

Air Commodore Khalid Banuri, director of arms control and disarmament affairs at the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), said that Pakistan’s ‘command and control structure’ for the weapons was better than that of many other nuclear-armed states, and many countries had officially acknowledged this, DawnNews reported Thursday.

Banuri said that over 10,000 highly trained and professional people were looking after the security of the nuclear assets.

In an interview to DawnNews, he described western media reports that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might fall into the the hands of terrorists as "preposterous". “It does not make sense for anyone to continue to harp on this despite having understanding of how Pakistan does its work,” he said.

Banuri added that Pakistan constantly maintained contact with a number of countries over the nuclear issue.

“We have interaction with several countries, including the US, EU, Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Our interaction with the US is based on the two basic principles, non-intrusiveness and our right to pick and choose,” he said.

Banuri added that such interactions did not mean that Pakistan had granted access to its nuclear assets to anyone.