Pak atomic weapons face threats: US

Islamabad: Amid reports that US may dismantle Pakistan`s nuclear arsenal, the American Embassy here 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 Embassy in Islamabad was reacting to a report in the American journal, The Atlantic, which said the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani compound in May had reinforced Islamabad`s longstanding fears that Washington could try to dismantle the country`s nuclear arsenal.

"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.

"Pakistan has a professional, highly motivated, and dedicated security force that fully understands the importance of nuclear security," the statement said, a day after Pakistan rubbished the US media report.

The embassy statement noted that US President Barack Obama had declared at the Nuclear Security Summit in March last year that he felt "confident about Pakistan`s security around its nuclear weapons programmes". The statement added that Obama had also said: "But that doesn`t mean that there isn`t improvement to make in all of our nuclear security programmes."

The Pakistan government has already dismissed The Atlantic`s report as "pure fiction". Reacting to the report`s contention that the US had plans to secure Pakistan?s nuclear arsenal in the event of any extremist threat, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua had said no one should "underestimate" Pakistan`s capability to defend its national interests.

The report was "part of a deliberate propaganda campaign meant to mislead opinion. The surfacing of such campaigns is not something new. It is orchestrated by quarters that are inimical to Pakistan," Janjua said.