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US seeks direct access to Pak's nuke arsenal

The United States has sought direct access to the body controlling the country's nuclear assets for an American official to be posted at its embassy in Islamabad.

world Updated: Apr 14, 2008 20:42 IST

Amid western concerns about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear aresenal, the United States has sought direct access to the body controlling the country's nuclear assets for an American official to be posted at its embassy in Islamabad.

The US State Department sent a proposal to the Pakistan government after a set of 11 demands dispatched earlier by Washington to Islamabad regarding the deployment of American military personnel in the country, were refused by Pakistani authorities.

The latest request from Washington had suggested that the official who would be permanently posted in the US embassy here to deal with nuclear issues should have direct access to the National Command Authority (NCA) Secretariat, The News reported on Monday.

The earlier request had wanted American citizens sent by the US government to be treated above Pakistan's national law.

Leading security analyst Shireen Mazari, the head of the Institute of Strategic Studies, said this latest move by the US was "perhaps the most dangerous effort at intruding into Pakistan's sensitive areas in the ongoing effort to gain direct access to nuclear-strategic matters".

The new request has come at a time when senior US officials who recently visited Pakistan had expressed satisfaction over the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear assets, the report said.

US embassy spokesperson Elizabeth Colton did not reject the US proposal outright but told The News: "We are in touch with all elements of the Pakistan government all the time. But we do not publish or discuss details of our diplomatic discussions and assignments."