Zardari seeks Japanese nuclear cooperation

Tokyo: President Asif Ali Zardari has asked Japan to work out with Pakistan a deal on peaceful use of nuclear energy similar to the one it inked with India.

"If Japan is willing to cooperate with India in nuclear technology and (is) giving nuclear technology for peaceful purpose, I do not see any reason why we should not deserve the same," Zardari told Japanese media ahead of his visit to Japan.

Zardari recognized that the nuclear issue is very sensitive for the Japanese people and government, Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.

Neither India nor Pakistan are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the nuclear talks between Japan and India have triggered an outcry from survivors of the 1945 US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who fear such a deal would hamper global efforts to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

Japanese firms, however, are keen to export nuclear power generation technology and related equipment to India, which plans to build 20 new nuclear power plants by 2020.

Zardari claimed that Pakistan never wanted to go nuclear but it was forced to do so when India exploded a nuclear device in 1974 and then again in 1998.

Asked if Pakistan seeks to expand its nuclear arsenal, the president said his government does not want to see an arms race in the region and advocates a nuclear-free South Asia.