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Pakistan denies discussing nuclear deal with US

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Islamabad: Pakistan has denied a White House claim that it was working with the US towards a pact that would limit Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal, the media reported on Monday.

“No deal is being discussed between the two countries. Nor has the US made any demand on Pakistan,” foreign office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said here.

“History is a testimony to the fact that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepts no demand from any state,” The Nation newspaper quoted him as saying.

The statement said the prime minister firmly believed in policies directed at preserving, protecting and promoting Pakistan’s national interests, the media reports said.

Sharif, who was to leave for the US on Sunday night, delayed his travel to receive briefing from the head of the ISI intelligence agency who returned from the US the same night.

Sharif’s key aides, Sartaj Aziz and Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, are already in Washington, meeting US officials on issues of bilateral interest and regional importance.

White House officials said on Thursday they have started talks that could ultimately govern the scale of Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal.

Such a deal, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, was based on US concerns that Pakistan could be on the verge of deploying a small tactical nuclear weapon – very similar to those placed in Europe by the US during the Cold War to deter Soviet Union.

“There has been a lot of public speculation about this,” Earnest said.

“At this point, the US has been engaged with Pakistan, as well as the rest of the international community, on issues related to nuclear safety and security.”

Earnest, however, added that the current climate of discussions between Washington and Islamabad were not at a level where officials might expect a deal to be reached by the time Sharif reaches the US on October 22.

Pakistani official sources were quoted as saying that Sharif would reach Washington on Tuesday after a night halt in London.

Before leaving Islamabad, Sharif said Pakistan was “a responsible sovereign nuclear state” and that “its strategic assets are secured under a foolproof arrangement”.

(IANS)

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Javad Zarif Says, Iran not Seeking Nuclear Weapons as Tensions Escalate with US

Zarif said in a tweet that "we're not seeking nuclear weapons," adding that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa "banning them"

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nuclear weapons
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (file photo) RFERL

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said Tehran is not seeking nuclear weapons as tensions escalate with the United States. Zarif’s remarks on May 27 came the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington was not seeking regime change in Iran but wanted to ensure Tehran did not produce nuclear arms.

Zarif said in a tweet that “we’re not seeking nuclear weapons,” adding that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa “banning them.” He said that U.S. “economic terrorism” was “hurting the Iranian people and causing tension in the region.”

Trump said the United States was “not looking regime change, we’re looking for no nuclear weapons,” following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, adding that he thought “we’ll make a deal” with Tehran over its nuclear program.

nuclear weapons
Zarif said in a tweet that “we’re not seeking nuclear weapons,” adding that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa “banning them.”. Pixabay

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Relations between Tehran and Washington have plummeted since the United States a year ago pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Iran that curbed the country’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

Since then, Washington has reimposed sanctions, stepped up its rhetoric, and beefed up its military presence in the Middle East, prompting growing concerns of a possible military conflict with Iran. (RFERL)