Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No linkage between US aid and Pak nuclear program: State Department

WASHINGTON: Chairman US Joint Chiefs Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen on Monday said Pakistan has not diverted any US assistance to advance its nuclear weapons program as his remarks quashed apprehensions cited in an American newspaper report. The State Department also categorically stated that there was no linkage between the US aid and Pakistan’s nuclear capability. The top US military officer also acknowledged that Pakistan has bolstered the security of its nuclear assets, saying it made use of American aid specifically targeted toward that end in the recent years. “I am not aware of any US aid that has gone towards nuclear weapons, save that which is very focused in the last several years, last three or four years on improving their security, which is exactly what we would like. And they have done that,” he said in response to a question. Mullen’s comments came after a story in The New York Times claimed that members of US Congress are concerned that Islamabad might divert US aid to it nuclear program. Mullen, who spoke on wide-ranging security issues at a leading Washington think tank, also rejected characterizations that the key anti-terrorism partner somehow might near a failure. He said both civilian and military leadership in Pakistan is conscious of the extremism threat to their country and advocated a long-term US relationship with Pakistan. At the State Department, spokesman Ian Kelly advised against drawing “any links between the issues of our assistance package and their nuclear capability.” “We shouldn’t connect these dots..Because this assistance package is for very specific purposes and we’re going to work very closely with the government of Pakistan for us to meet our joint goal...Of helping them re-establish stability. I don’t see necessarily a connection between the two,” he said. “We’re going to work closely with Pakistan to make sure that the money is spent for the specific purposes that the US Congress had in mind,” he said at the daily briefing.

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