Pakistan Nuclear Program
- No Slowdown in Pakistan Nuclear Program-Musharraf
Thu Jul 1, 2004 05:58 AM ET
By Mike Collett-WhiteISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan will not roll
back its nuclear weapons program and plans to carry out another
missile test within two months, President Pervez Musharraf said.
In remarks to domestic journalists late on Wednesday, Musharraf said
there was no pressure on Pakistan from the United States to slow
atomic arms development despite a damaging proliferation scandal
involving one of its top nuclear scientists.
"It is a joke," Musharraf said, responding to a question about
possible U.S. pressure.
"We are conducting a missile test every second day. I give you
important news that within two months Pakistan will conduct a big
missile test," he said in remarks quoted by the Urdu-language Jang
China's Xinhua news agency quoted the president as saying Pakistan
would conduct an important "nuclear" test, adding that he did not
specify whether he meant a nuclear bomb or a missile.
But Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who was with Musharraf
when he made the remarks, said he clearly mentioned a missile test.
"We are taking our nuclear program forward," Musharraf added. "We
will continue to manufacture nuclear (capable) missiles and it will
be a madman who accuses me of rolling back the nuclear missile
COMMENTS "NOT NEW"
Military experts said the general's comments were not new, but may
have been aimed at hawks in government and the army who have accused
him of going soft on India and bowing to U.S. pressure on Islamic
Banned militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda, have been blamed
for a recent spate of bomb attacks in the southern port city of
Karachi, possibly a reflection of their fury over Musharraf's support
for the U.S. war on terror.
"When you have a regime of missile notification and everyone knows we
have a robust nuclear program, I don't see why we need this," said
Talat Masood, a retired general and commentator, referring to
"People are more interested in progress on poverty. This is rhetoric
meant for those who might try to subvert his program and also to
counter the radical elements who have tried to project him as someone
who has bowed to U.S. pressure," he said.
Pakistan has not conducted a nuclear test since May, 1998, when it
carried out a series of experiments in response to tests by arch-
On June 20 this year, India and Pakistan renewed a moratorium on
nuclear test explosions following talks in New Delhi, although the
agreement allowed an exception to be made if either country
believed "extraordinary events" threatened its interests.
Pakistan and India carry out fairly frequent missile tests. On June
4, Pakistan successfully test fired its nuclear-capable Ghauri
missile, able to carry warheads 940 miles.
Its longest-range missile is the Shaheen II, tested for the first
time in March and capable of carrying all types of warheads 1,250
miles. Some experts put its range at 1,500 miles, covering every
corner of neighboring India.
Many Pakistanis feared Musharraf would be pressured by Washington to
cut back nuclear weapons development after Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered
as the father of the country's atomic bomb, confessed to leaking
secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
The United States called on Pakistan to root out the proliferation
network, but avoided harsher censure for a military leader deemed
vital in the U.S. war on terror.
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