ISLAMABAD: The US has asked Pakistan to provide more information about a civilian nuclear arrangement it has concluded with China, America’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has said. Holbrooke’s statement on the nuclear issue, made during an interview with visiting Pakistani journalists, followed an earlier comment by his deputy, Frank Ruggiero, who told reporters in Washington that the US was “not in any discussions with the Pakistanis on civil nuclear cooperation”. Pakistan may “quietly try to persuade the US at least to withdraw its objection to an arrangement it has made with China for building new civil nuclear plants at Chashma,” the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
Holbrooke, when asked to comment on US objections to the arrangement, said: “We have asked for more information on the Chinese-Pakistan arrangement to see how they fit in with international regimes”. Last month, US Under Secretary of State for Nuclear Security Thomas D’Agostino said the US believed that the transfer of new reactors to Pakistan extended beyond the cooperation China had reached with Pakistan before joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2004.
He said that Beijing needs to seek the permission of the NSG before making further investments. China insists that the arrangement with Pakistan was made before it joined the NSG and, therefore, NSG restrictions do not apply to this deal. Holbrooke acknowledged holding private conversations with Pakistani officials on Islamabad’s desire for a civil nuclear deal like the one the US concluded with India in 2008.
“We are well aware of Pakistani strategic goal and desire. It’s one of the many things we have talked about frankly in private with our friends in Pakistan,” he said. On the second day of the third round of the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue yesterday, some Pakistani officials indicated that enhancing nuclear energy was one of Islamabad’s “main strategic goals”.
The US has made it clear that it is not offering a nuclear deal to Pakistan as of now. In the interview with Pakistani journalists, Holbrooke also emphasised the need for military action against militants hiding in North Waziristan tribal region. Holbrooke also acknowledged that Pakistan-India tensions affected the situation in Afghanistan and the US is willing to help reduce tensions.
But he made it clear that the US could not play any mediatory role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, the main cause for tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations – Indiatimes