A new US media report on Sunday said that the Obama administration was moving with “greater urgency and imagination” to address concerns about Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal.
“The Obama administration has begun to address this complicated issue with great urgency and imagination,” The New York Times said in an editorial on Sunday.
The editorial went on to say that “persuading Pakistan to rein in its nuclear weapons program should be an international priority,” as was done for curbing Iran’s nuclear ambition.
Though the editorial cited earlier reports carried by The Times and other publications of this move, it was interesting as it comes after vehement denials by the White House.
“Let me state categorically, we have not entered into negotiations on a 123 agreement (a US legal requirement for any nuclear deal) with Pakistan, nor are we seeking an exception for Pakistan within the Nuclear Suppliers Group in order to facilitate civil nuclear exports,” a senior Obama administration told reporters after the president’s meeting with the visiting Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif last month. He had gone on to dismiss news report of a discussion as baseless.
Pakistan, which has long been seeking a nuclear deal like the one the US has with India, too denied it was discussing a deal. It went on, in fact, to assert it has a robust arsenal of tactical battleground weapons to address any threat from India.
The United States wants Pakistan to accept a cap on its nuclear arsenal, and thereby reveal and confirm its actual size, in return for member of a nuclear suppliers group to access material for its civilian use facilities, according to earlier reports.
Given Pakistan’s history of proliferation, there are growing international concerns about its nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to be growing so rapidly that it may become the third largest by 2025, only behind the US and Russia.