As world leaders gather for the Nuclear Security Summit this week, the US has said that Pakistan’s continued deployment of tactical atomic weapons can increase the security threat.
“Our concerns regarding the continuing deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons by Pakistan relate to a reality of the situation. When battlefield nuclear weapons are deployed forward, they can represent enhanced nuclear security threat,” said Rose Gottemoeller, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security.
“It is more difficult to sustain positive control over systems that are deployed forward. We found this lesson ourselves out in Europe during the years of the Cold War. And so I do think that it is a reality of the situation,” she told reporters.
“Wherever battlefield nuclear weapons exist, they represent particular nuclear security problems,” Gottemoeller said ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit being hosted by US on March 31-April 1.
This is not the first time that Gottemoeller raised such concerns about Pakistan. At a Congressional hearing earlier this month, she had said: “We have been very concerned about Pakistan’s deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cancelled his trip to Washington for the summit in the wake of the terrorist attack in a Lahore park in which 72 people were killed and scores injured.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, meanwhile, said nuclear-armed Pakistan is a “very very vital problem”.
“Pakistan is a very, very vital problem and really vital country for us because they have a thing called nuclear weapons. They have to get a hold of their situation,” Trump told CNN during a town hall in Wisconsin, where the Republican presidential primary will be held on April 5.
On the Lahore terror attacks, Trump said: “When I see it put in a park because it was mostly Christians — although many others were killed other than Christians — I think it’s just absolutely a horrible story.”
He added: “I’m talking about radical Islamic terrorism. I will solve it far better than anybody else running.”