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N-assets in safe hands: FO

August 12, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Aug 11: The Foreign Office on Saturday rejected what it characterised as ‘inspired and tendentious’ reports in the western media about the safety of Pakistan’s strategic assets, saying the reports appeared to be prompted by ‘questionable motives’.

Dismissing the concerns raised about Pakistan’s nuclear assets by certain quarters, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam underscored that Pakistan’s command and control structures were not controlled by individual personalities but were institutionalised and multi-layered to ensure safety and security at multiple levels.

“Pakistan’s strategic assets are completely safe and secure and the highest level of institutionalised protection is accorded to them. These are under strong multi-layered decision making, organisational, administrative and command and control structures since 1998,” the spokesperson maintained. She pointed out that consistent with its obligations as a nuclear weapons state, Pakistan formally instituted an elaborate nuclear command and control mechanism in February 2000 that comprises (i) National Command Authority (NCA), (ii) Strategic Plans Division (SPD) and, (iii) Strategic Forces Command.

Elaborating further she said: “The NCA is responsible for policy formulation, employment and development of strategic systems as well as for the security of strategic assets. This apex decision-making body is under the chairmanship of the president with the prime minister as its vice-chairman. It has two committees -- the Employment Control Committee and the Development Control Committee -- functioning separately for policy formulation, employment and development aspects, respectively. The SPD is the secretariat for the NCA.”

The foreign minister is the deputy chairman of the Employment Control Committee, whose politico-military composition includes as members the ministers for defence, interior and finance as well as chairman JCSC, COAS/VCOAS, CNS, CAS and DG SPD as its secretary, she noted.

The spokesperson explained that the SPD had an elaborate security division which included a counter-intelligence network to safeguard the activities of strategic organisations. “It also has in place a dedicated multi-layered security apparatus to safeguard strategic assets. Personnel reliability is also a high priority area to which necessary resources are allocated,” she underlined.

“These reports, therefore, have no basis and are apparently prompted by questionable motives,” the spokesperson asserted.

While reiterating Pakistan’s ‘strong and abiding’ commitment to nuclear non-proliferation she said: “This commitment will be maintained despite the evident bias against our deterrent capability and our legitimate interest in development and access to civil nuclear energy for economic development.”