Pakistan rejects British minister's nuclear charge
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan Monday rejected as irresponsible a charge made by a British minister in a newspaper article that it was rapidly becoming a threat to world peace.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Islamabad had taken ``serious note'' of British Foreign Office minister Peter Hain's comments in an article carried by the Sunday Mirror, which also reported that a Pakistani contact offered to sell to its undercover reporters materials that could be used to make a nuclear bomb.
He said Pakistan planned to raise the matter with the British government after receiving an authentic text of Hain's article and would consider demanding an international probe into how Soviet nuclear materials, which the newspaper said were offered for sale, had reached neighboring Afghanistan.
``We would be surprised if such an irresponsible statement, which is belied by the contents of the Sunday Mirror article itself, has been made by a senior official of the British government,'' the spokesman said about Hain's article.
The Sunday Mirror article said undercover reporters posing as arms dealers discovered that for 20,000 pounds ($29,730) they could buy canisters containing uranium and plutonium captured by Afghans from the Russians.
``There is a link between Pakistan's exports of nuclear capability and terrorism,'' Hain said in his article. ``The country is rapidly becoming a threat to world peace.''
The Pakistani spokesman said Islamabad remained ``committed not to export nuclear and other sensitive materials and technologies to any other country or entity. Our record on this count is impeccable.''
Sunday, Pakistan marked the second anniversary of its tit-for-tat nuclear tests carried out after similar detonations by arch-rival India.
``If this (Mirror) story has any truth, it raises serious questions whether the Soviet army had introduced and stored nuclear materials inside Afghanistan during its decade-long military intervention (there) and why these stocks were not removed at the time of withdrawal of Soviet forces,'' the Pakistani spokesman said.
``This is a matter of utmost gravity,'' he said. ``Pakistan will consider formally raising the matter with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the United Nations for international investigation into how the Soviet nuclear materials reached Afghanistan.
``As a successor state, the Russian Federation has an obligation to inform the international community about the factual position in this regard,'' he said.
``The export of nuclear capacity from Pakistan is a deadly threat to the region and the world,'' Hain said in his article. ``Pakistan must stop this trade which the Sunday Mirror has exposed.
``It's no good for their government to say they have no control over third parties or private companies. If they were determined to put a stop to this they could.
Hain said he would investigate the matter and ``take action to alert the international community, the United Nations and other bodies as to what is going on in Pakistan.''
In a statement released later by the Foreign Office in London, Hain said: ``We are not aware of evidence to confirm these claims but naturally we take all reports of nuclear proliferation seriously.
``The UK has made a positive contribution to implementing the nuclear non-proliferation agenda.''
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