Pakistan rejects nuclear weapons article

Nov. 9, 2009 at 8:50 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The Pakistani Foreign Ministry dismissed as "totally baseless" a report in The New Yorker about the United States offering to protect its nuclear weapons.

Calling the article "utterly misleading and totally baseless," the ministry said it was "nothing more than a concoction to tarnish the image of Pakistan and create misgivings among its people," CNN reported Monday.

The New Yorker magazine article by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, which has a covert team ready to fly to Pakistan, has been working on "highly sensitive understandings" with Pakistan's military to let the military provide "added security for the Pakistani arsenal in case of a crisis."

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Hersh had made "several false and highly irresponsible claims by quoting anonymous and unverifiable sources," CNN reported.

Saying its strategic assets are safe and secure, the ministry said Pakistan does not need foreign assistance and that as a sovereign state, it will not "allow any country to have direct or indirect access to its nuclear and strategic facilities."

In a telephone conversation with CNN, Hersh dismissed the Pakistani accusations, saying current U.S. plans call for separating the warheads from the mechanisms used to set them off instead of removing the warheads. Hersh also said that by securing the Pakistani nukes, U.S. officials also hope neighboring India would be convinced to pull its troops from the borders so the Pakistani military can turn more of its attention to fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida on its borders with Afghanistan.

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