Pakistan is trying to block the opening of negotiations on a treaty to halt global production of new nuclear material, which has prompted US President Barack Obama to voice his "disappointment", a leading American daily said today.
The next phase in Obama's arms-control plan is to get countries to agree to a treaty that would end the production of new bomb fuel, the New York Times reported.
Pakistan has led the opposition, and it is building two new reactors for making weapons-grade plutonium, and one plant for salvaging plutonium from old reactor fuel, said the report which came on the eve of a landmark nuclear security summit convened by Obama in Washington.
Quoting a senior American official, the daily said Obama used his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday to "express disappointment" that Pakistan is blocking the opening of negotiations on that treaty.
It said that last month, the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington, reported that the first of the two new Pakistani reactors was emitting steam.
That suggests, said Paul Brannan, a senior institute analyst, that the "reactor is at least at some state of initial operation."
Meanwhile, Gilani told Pakistani newsmen in Washington that the US has reaffirmed its confidence in the safety of his country's nuclear programme.
"I thanked President Obama for his expression of firm confidence in our nuclear programme," he said.
The Pakistani leader stated it is in only in the media that sometimes concerns are expressed about the safety of Pakistani nuclear weapons. "Let me assure you that Pakistan's nuclear assets are in safe hands," he was quoted as saying by Pakistan's official APP news agency.
Pakistan has long been demanding nuclear deal with the US on the lines the agreement Washington reached with India.