Will safeguard nukes at all cost: Pakistan Army

Will safeguard nukes at all cost: Pakistan Army

"It may be re-called that SPD (Strategic Plans Division) has undertaken a comprehensive plan to significantly augment its existing capacity through induction of additional 8000 personnel in its Nuclear security force," Major General Muhammad Tahir, Director General Security Strategic Plans Division of the Pakistan Army said in a statement.

He resolved to safeguard Pakistan's nuclear assets at all cost.

Fresh media reports in the US have questioned the quality of security being given to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, which Washington fears could be vulnerable to militants and terror groups like the al-Qaeda.

However, Tahir, "reiterated that extensive resources have been made available to train, equip, deploy and sustain an independent and potent security force to meet any and every threat emanating from any quarter," the statement released after the graduation parade of a fresh batch of 700 SPD Security Force trainees in Rawalpindi yesterday said.

Tahir expressed his determination that no stone would be left unturned in making the defence of country's nuclear installations and assets impregnable.

The trainee batch had successfully completed six months of training in various realms of nuclear security.

Talking about the 8,000 recruits, Tahir said, "This comprises handpicked officers and men, who are physically robust, mentally sharp and equipped with modern weapons and equipment, trained in technical skills to the best international standards and practices."

The senior military official claimed the rapid accomplishment of the plan would deter and defeat all types of threats against Pakistan's nuclear capability.

Pakistan had yesterday described as "pure fiction" a US media report about possible American plans to secure the country's nuclear arsenal in the event of any extremist threat, saying no one should "underestimate" its capability to defend its national interests.

A statement issued by Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said the article 'The Ally From Hell' in The Atlantic journal was "baseless and motivated".

She had dismissed the article as "pure fiction, baseless and motivated".

Janjua said: "No one should underestimate Pakistan's will and capability to defend its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests."

The article had accused Pakistan of lying to the US administration in the campaign against terrorists and failing to detect the presence of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

It said that army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had asked officials of the SPD to take additional steps to secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the wake of the US raid that killed bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.

Meanwhile, US embassy here, reacting to the media report said, today said there were "potential threats" to Islamabad's atomic weapons from terrorists and that the country could still improve its nuclear security programmes.

"The US government's views have not changed regarding nuclear security in Pakistan.

We have confidence that the government of Pakistan is well aware of the range of potential threats to its nuclear arsenal and has accordingly given very high priority to securing its nuclear weapons and materials effectively," said a statement issued by the US Embassy.

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