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Pakistan Nuclear Program

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    No Slowdown in Pakistan Nuclear Program-Musharraf Thu Jul 1, 2004 05:58 AM ET http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2004
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      No Slowdown in Pakistan Nuclear Program-Musharraf
      Thu Jul 1, 2004 05:58 AM ET

      http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?
      type=worldNews&storyID=5563062§ion=news


      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
      newspaper.

      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
      program."

      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
      militancy.

      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
      Musharraf's remarks.

      "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-
      rival India.

      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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