Tuesday October 17, 2017
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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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Kim Jong-un Applauds North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme Despite US Sanctions

The leader said Pyongyang's nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was "safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia"

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nuclear weapons
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

Seoul, October 8, 2017 : North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lauded his country’s nuclear weapons programme as the best way to defend its sovereignty and counter threats from the US.

Speaking to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on Saturday, Kim Jong-un said “nuclear weapons of North Korea are a precious fruition borne by its people’s bloody struggle for defending the destiny and sovereignty of the country from the protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists”, Efe reported citing state news agency KCNA.

Kim, also the chairman of the WPK, said Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was “safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia”.

He added his country’s nuclear ambitions have provided the foundations for strong economic development, despite sanctions imposed by the “US imperialists and their vassal forces” to force North Korea into abandoning its weapons programme.

ALSO READ North Korea Threatens Japan of Nuclear Destruction, Calls its Actions ‘Suicidal’

During the plenary session, which is held at least once a year, the North Korean leader’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong was elected to the party’s politburo, a sign of her rising importance and clout within the North Korean regime.

Choe Ryong-hae, a close aide of the leader, joined the party’s Central Military Commission, while Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was appointed to the central committee’s politburo, according to the state agency. (IANS)

 

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India third among the countries that have faced most natural disasters in the last half century, says UN Secretary General

"It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act"

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UN Secretary General , António Guterres
UN Secretary General, António Guterres. Wikimedia
  • The UN Secretary General has said on Tuesday, that India ranked third among the countries that have faced most natural disasters in the last half century 
  • Guterres listed climate change among the seven global threats needing immediate global action 
  • He called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalization 

New Delhi, September 20, 2017: India ranked third among the countries that have faced the most natural disasters in the last half century, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday pleading for unwavering international action on climate change.

In his first speech to the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, he said, “It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act.”

“I urge governments to implement the historic Paris Agreement with ever greater ambition,” he said.

United States President Donald Trump has declared that his country is pulling out of the Paris agreement on combating climate change.

Pointedly, Guterres said, “The United States, followed by China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia, have experienced the most disasters since 1995 – more than 1,600, or once every five days.”

Climate change was among the seven global threats that he listed needing immediate global action.

International terrorism is taking a great toll on the world, he said and called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalisation.

“Stronger international cooperation remains crucial,” he said. “Together, we need to make full use of UN instruments, and expand our efforts to support survivors.

But he added, “Experience has also shown that harsh crackdowns and heavy-handed approaches are counterproductive.”

Foremost among the seven perils he listed is the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea.

“Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are at the highest level since the end of the Cold War,” Guterres warned. “The fear is not abstract. Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

He appealed to the Security council to act unitedly to meet the threat and to all countries to comply with its resolution imposing sanctions.

“Only that unity can lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and — as the resolution recognises — create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement to resolve the crisis,” he said while condemning Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

“The dark side of innovation” is another global peril, he said, adding “it has moved from the frontier to the front door.”

Also readWorld Riddled with Genocide, War Crimes and Ethnic Cleaning; ‘We Must Do More’, Asserts UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

“Cyber war is becoming less and less a hidden reality — and more and more able to disrupt relations among States and destroy some of the structures and systems of modern life,” he said.

Genetic engineering has also raised ethical questions that have not been resolved, he said.

The humanitarian crisis from unresolved conflicts and violations of international law that is manifested in the flow of refugees is another peril the world faces, he said.

He mentioned the Rohingya crisis, and said, “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access. They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya.”

The other threats are the growing inequality among nations and within nations, and human migration.

Emphasising the need for global unity to meet the great perils facing humanity, Guterres said, “We come from different corners of the world. Our cultures, religions, traditions vary widely — and wonderfully. At times, there are competing interests among us. At others, there is even open conflict.”

“That is exactly why we need the United Nations, he said. “That is why multilateralism is more important than ever.” (IANS)

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Growing Nuclear Weapons Increase Concerns About Possible Pakistan-India War

Experts feel that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play

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Growing Nuclear Arsenals
Pakistani-made NASR missiles are on display during a military parade to mark Pakistan's Republic Day, in Islamabad, Pakistan. VOA
  • The volatility of the situation is further exacerbated because neither country has a national missile defense system
  • Experts believe that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play
  • Pakistan changed its policy of minimum credible deterrence to full spectrum response with tactical weapons armed with low-grade nuclear material for use in the battlefield
  • Kashmir has been a flashpoint since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 and caused the most recent flare-up last November

June 17, 2017: India and Pakistan have fought three wars and have been on the brink of another several times, a worrying prospect given that both have growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and questions about how secure they are.

The arms race between the South Asian neighbours has moved to enhancing the delivery systems for the warheads, which could annihilate the subcontinent several times. India’s recent launch of more than 100 satellites with a single rocket foreshadows the capability of sending up a missile with multiple nuclear weapons.

The volatility of the situation is further exacerbated because neither country has a national missile defense system, and it likely would take several years to get one in place.

While the policy of mutually assured destruction has kept hostilities from overheating so far, experts believe that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play.

And there are plenty of risks.

Kashmir a flashpoint

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 and caused the most recent flare-up last November. Both sides accuse each other of harboring terrorists who launch cross-border attacks. Therefore, the question is whether the nukes in South Asia could fall into the wrong hands during mobilization in the fog of war.

Nuclear arms experts Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimate that Pakistan has 120-130 nuclear warheads compared with India’s 110-120. India is said to have a stockpile of 540 kilograms of weapons grade plutonium, enough to produce 130 warheads. Pakistan has 3,100 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, sufficient to build 300 warheads. That’s a lot to keep an eye on.

“The nukes were safe when these were in storage areas in both countries,” Michael Krepon, co-founder and senior associate at Stimson Center, said in an interview with VOA’s Urdu Service. “But when these have to be moved around in a state of war, it surely raises a red flag about their security on many counts.

ALSO READ: UN: World Population to reach 10 billion by 2050, India and Pakistan to lead

Serious concerns

“The biggest concern was about Pakistan’s tactical weapons, which have a very short range,” Krepon said. “It means that these will have to be moved very close to the battlefield. There are fears that independent groups who want to settle scores with either Pakistan or India could attack them.

“Secondly, these could be attacked by Indian warplanes. Thirdly, since the fissile material has to be transported separately to combine with the main structure, this fissile material could also come under attack. These factors pose greater concerns, especially in the United States.”

India developed its first strategic ballistic missile in 1996 with a range of 250 kilometers. Click To Tweet

Professor Scott Sagan of Stanford University adds: “The plausible place to move these tactical nuclear weapons would be to roads where these would be less vulnerable to Indian attack due to their flexibility. However, this also generates a fear that these could become vulnerable to terrorists’ seizure in whole or in part. The same was true for India.”

The countries have continued to expand their nuclear capacity long past the stated goal of a “credible deterrence” the vow of no first use. “No first use policy in India was a misnomer, and India would opt for the first strike if it deemed necessary,” said Mueed Yousuf of the United States Institute for Peace.

Professor Paul Kapoor of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School added: “If India used nuclear weapons, it would use them in massive way to inflict an unacceptable harm to adverse countries.”

A two-pronged policy

Zamir Akram, a former Pakistani ambassador and U.N. representative, said Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine initially was based on India’s much larger superiority in conventional weapons. However, in response to India’s “Cold Start” doctrine, allowing it to attack Pakistan with conventional weapons to prevent nuclear retaliation, Pakistan changed its policy of minimum credible deterrence to full spectrum response with tactical weapons armed with low-grade nuclear material for use in the battlefield, Akram said.

Kapoor says that results in a two-pronged policy: use low-grade tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional war, and use nuclear weapons in case of an imminent nuclear attack by India.

“While Pakistan had a bigger stockpile of nukes as compared to India, the induction of very short-range tactical weapons into its conventional warfare mechanism was a worrying factor,” Krepon said.

India developed its first strategic ballistic missile in 1996 with a range of 250 kilometers. During the last decade, it has added medium- and long-range missiles that can reach Pakistan and China.

Pakistan has missiles capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads up to 2,750 kilometers, enough to target all major Indian cities, and cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. (VOA)