Pakistan seeking nuclear deal with US


PAKISTAN WANTS the US to provide it with nuclear technology for a civilian energy programme and is to push the Obama administration this week for a deal.

Islamabad is seeking a civilian nuclear deal to mirror the package granted to India by George W Bush, a proposal that would prove contentious in Washington given Pakistan’s uneven record on combating extremist groups and its sale of nuclear technology to states hostile to the West, led by the former head of its programme, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said yesterday: “Pakistan is an energy-deficit country and we’re looking for all sources, including nuclear, to meet our requirements.”

A team led by Pakistan’s foreign minister that includes the army commander and spy chief is due to arrive in Washington tomorrow for meetings with their US counterparts, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in an effort to relaunch dialogue between the two allies. Afghanistan and help for Pakistan’s economy will also be on the agenda.

Experts believe Pakistan holds the key to stabilising Afghanistan and is trying to position itself as the sole conduit to talk to the Taliban.

The US meetings are designed to restart talks that were last held in 2008. Pakistan believes it has suffered from the violent fallout of the US-led intervention in Afghanistan and requires further assistance, despite a recent $7.5 billion (€5.5 billion) US aid injection.

* Pakistan wants to investigate Dr Khan on charges of transferring nuclear secrets to Iraq and Iran, a government lawyer said yesterday.

The petition by the Pakistani government for court permission to investigate the nuclear scientist was filed after the Washington Postreported that he had tried to help Iran and Iraq develop nuclear weapons. – (Guardian service; Reuters)