The United States has once again denied it was negotiating a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan adding it remains concerned about the scope and pace of its weapons programme.
“I can assure you that despite some press reports to the contrary that we are not negotiating a 123 agreement — a civil nuclear cooperation agreement — with Pakistan,” US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson told US lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
He added, in reply to another question, that the US continues to be concerned about the “scope and pace” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, which, accordion got one non-government estimate, is projected to make it the world’s third largest n-arsenal by 2025.
Multiple media reports had suggested in the run up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s US visit in October that the Obama administration was considering a nuclear deal with Pakistan.
The reports has said a civil nuclear deal like the one the US signed with India, was on offer to Islamabad in exchange for Pakistan accepting a cap on its nuclear arsenal.
A senior Obama administration official had refuted those reports speaking on background the day Sharif met President Barack Obama, speaking on background.
Olson testimony, which makes it official and on record, came in response to a question from a a lawmaker that indicated speculation about the deal had continued despite the denial.