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Pak 'disturbed' over Indian nuke plans

September 04, 2009 14:36 IST

Pakistan has said it was "disturbed" by reports that India could be preparing for additional nuclear tests and hoped a unilateral moratorium on testing would remain in place in the region.

"We are disturbed by media reports that India might be considering to conduct additional (nuclear) tests," foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing.

Basit was responding to a question on concerns expressed by Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor about a reported increase in Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan does not "discuss the contours of our deterrence in public" but is committed to maintaining a "credible deterrence at the minimum levels", he said.

Pakistan is also opposed to any arms race in South Asia, he added.

"We have proposed a regional restraint regime, including a regional nuclear test ban treaty. The proposal is still on the table. We hope a unilateral moratorium on testing in the region will continue to be observed," Basit said.

Leading Indian defence scientist K Santhanam's recent remarks that the test of a thermonuclear bomb in 1998 was not as successful as was claimed triggered speculation that New Delhi could be preparing for further tests to validate the design of its nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has refuted Santhanam's claims.

In response to another question, Basit said Pakistan was not "blocking" nuclear disarmament talks at the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.

"Pakistan has shown flexibility and did not block the talks. We would not like our genuine security interests to be compromised in any manner," he said.

Earlier this week, arms negotiators failed to clear the way for the start of talks in Geneva on nuclear disarmament, as Pakistan said its security interests had not been respected. The Conference on Disarmament broke a 12-year stalemate in May when it agreed on a "work programme" to begin negotiations on banning the production of fissile material for nuclear bombs.

Basit said Pakistan went along with the work programme in May with the hope that it would lead to a balanced outcome. This included progress on nuclear disarmament, banning production of fissile material, preventing an arms race in outer space and "negative security assurances", whereby countries vow not to use atomic weapons on non-nuclear weapon states.

"We have legitimate concerns... the other countries did not show flexibility and so the Conference on Disarmament could not implement the work programme," he said.

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