Comments made by the head of the United Nationsâ atomic energy regulatory body on the 8th January highlighted his concerns over Pakistanâs nuclear weapons being used by insurgent/militant organisations. Speaking to the Al-Hayat publication, Mohammed El Baradei said: "I fear that chaos... or an extremist regime, could take root in that country which has 30 to 40 warheads."
He added: â(I am) worried that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of an extremist group in Pakistan or in Afghanistan."
Musharrafâs Emergency Rule Sparked Global Nuclear Fears
Global fears surrounding the security of the (suspected) 50-strong nuclear weapon contingent in Pakistan have emerged since, two months ago, President Musharraf ordered a national state of emergency.
In December, Pres. Musharraf asserted that the countryâs nuclear arsenal was secure. Since then, however, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has acted to heighten tensions.
"I fear that a war in the Middle East or in the Muslim world could have grave repercussions in Pakistan, more than in Iran," El Baradei warned. He is scheduled to visit the latter countryâs capital, Tehran, in coming days to discuss the nuclear situation there.
Pakistan Rejects Concerns over Nuclear Weapons
Since Mr El Baradeiâs comments were made, Pakistan has responded by rejecting notions that its nuclear weapons are potentially at risk.
"Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state. Our nuclear weapons are as secure as that of any other nuclear weapon state," Mohammad Sadiq, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry advised the media.
He added: "We, therefore, believed statements expressing concern about their safety and security are unwarranted and irresponsible."
El Baradeiâs statement, said Sadiq, ignores â...the fact that the strategic assets of Pakistan are fully secure and under multilayered safeguards and controls exercised by the National Command Authority".
In further, separate comments made to Al-Hayat, El Baradei advised the publication that authorities in Syria did not permit international inspection of a site targeted by Israeli warplanes in September 2007.
Source â Armed Forces Internationalâs Middle East Correspondent
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