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'F-16s to Pak plus N-reactor equals disaster'

Nothing can be done to prevent the misuse of the jets once the deal is through says Gary Ackerman.
None | By Press Trust of India, Washington
UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2006 03:43 AM IST

A prominent American lawmaker on Monday asked Bush Administration to scrap the sale of F-16s to Pakistan, saying the acquisition of the US-made fighter jets plus the plutonium reactor reportedly being built by Islamabad equals a "catastrophe."

In a "Dear Colleague" letter written in the wake of reports about the plutonium reactor, Gary Ackerman, the Co Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans said "at any time this news would be unwelcome."

Pointing to The Washington Post piece on Monday about the dramatic expansion in Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, Ackerman said the import of the story is "truly alarming" in the context of a pending sale by US of F-16 fighter-bombers.

Despite assurances by the Bush Administration that these aircraft will not be misused, or their technology transferred to other countries like China, once these planes have been delivered to Pakistan, there is, in fact, absolutely nothing we can do to prevent misuse," the New York Democrat said in his letter.

"Based on history and strategic analysis, there is every reason to believe the contrary that these F-16s will be drafted for use as nuclear weapons delivery vehicles, and that they will be picked apart by potential adversaries to answer questions about our aviation capabilities."

"Help stop a catastrophe before it happens... And stop the sale of F-16s to Pakistan" the law maker, also a senior member in the House International Relations Committee said.

While Islamabad has certainly provided critical assistance in the war on terror, this recognition should not entail the transfer of aircraft that is capable of delivering nuclear weapons, Ackerman said.

The sale of F-16s has nothing whatsoever to do with the requirements of the war on terror "and everything to do with the plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor Islamabad has found the resources to procure," he added.

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