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Pakistan to Maintain Nuclear Edge: Spokesman

Pakistan will maintain competitive edge of its nuclear program and enhance this capability qualitatively and quantitatively, Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said Wednesday.

"The purpose and objective of our nuclear program is to deter aggression, safeguard national security and protect sovereignty," Khan told reporters at a weekly news briefing in Islamabad.

He referred to President Pervez Musharraf's categorical statement that Pakistan will not roll back its nuclear program and would try to improve it in all its dimensions. "Pakistan can sustain its nuclear program through indigenous means and resources."

He said Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state and this fact has been acknowledged by other states. "Major nations do recognize the reality that Pakistan has nuclear weapons." He said Pakistan also wants a strategic restraint regime and conventional balance with India. "We do not want an arms race between the two countries."
In reply to a question, the spokesman said Pakistan will not hand over its scientists to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it is not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). He said Pakistan's investigations have been transparent. "The country limited its investigations to individuals and their links with the black market."

He pointed out that there are nationals of other countries involved and they are also conducting their investigations. He said the next step should be that the IAEA and other organizations intensify investigation into the black market. He said Pakistan is against nuclear proliferation and has established its credentials by conducting the investigation and neutralizing the under world network.

(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2004)

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