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Pak building more nukes

Despite instability, Pak is building its nuclear stockpile.

world Updated: Dec 02, 2010 00:37 IST
Yashwant Raj & Agencies
Yashwant Raj & Agencies
Hindustan Times

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has been a big worry for the US and at one stage in 2008 it believed Islamabad was producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world, according to a leaked US state department cable. And, worse, US officials have been shown in these leaked documents to worry about Pakistan's nuclear weapons -there is not count of how many - falling into the hands of terrorists.

"Despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any country in the world," said a December 2008 cable from the US embassy in Islamabad.

This assessment was presented to NATO permanent representatives by a US National Intelligence Officer Peter Lavoy at a meeting over Afghanistan. He had listed out Pakistan's rising illiteracy, joblessness among its more pressing problems.

Pakistan's nuclear programme is famously leaky with AQ Khan, its patron, called the world's worst proliferator running a nuclear walmart that supplied know-how and technology to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

The nuclear weapons are not the only worry the US has about Pakistan A cable from US embassy in Islamabad, captures the relationship between the two countries succintly as one based on mistrust.

In a separate cable a year later meant for Special representiative Richard Holbroke, US ambassador Anne Patterson, who left office this year, worried about Pakistan's nuclear command structure and the safeguards.

It's not only the US which is shown by the leaks to be worrying about Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Other nations too had similar concerns.

"The UK has deep concerns about the safe and security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons," senior UK diplomat Mariot Leslie told a US colleague in September 2009 according to a leaked cable. The Russians also shared concerns Pakistan was "highly unstable".

First Published: Dec 02, 2010 00:35 IST