Tuesday, February 15, 2005

US nuclear report angers Pakistan

Pakistan has dismissed a report by a US intelligence agency which predicts that the country will be riven by political instability in the next decade.
The foreign ministry said the National Intelligence Council's conclusions were "speculative and irresponsible".

The council says there is a possibility of Pakistan's nuclear assets being stolen by Islamic extremists.

Its worldwide report is posted on the Central Intelligence Agency's website, with a detailed chapter on Pakistan.

One assessment in the council's report - updated every five years - is that by the year 2015 there could be political instability in Pakistan, with the possibility of civil war.

It says there could also be inter-provincial rivalry, a sharp rise in Islamic extremism and a struggle for possession of nuclear weapons.

The council says that attempts could be made to steal nuclear weapons, which could even land in the hands of Islamic extremists.

Describing these assessments as "highly speculative", a spokesman for Pakistan's foreign office, Masood Khan, said a responsible institution like the Central Intelligence Agency should not have put them on its website.

Mr Khan said Pakistan was a responsible nuclear weapons state, and has a complete mechanism in place to guard its nuclear assets.

He also described as "irresponsible" the assessment about the country's political future. It was baseless and out of place, he said.