WASHINGTON, July 9 The US administration is confident that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is adequately protected from the Taliban and other extremist groups, says a senior State Department official.

US lawmakers had earlier urged the administration to make contingency plans to secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
“Overall I can say that we have confidence that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are being safeguarded by the Pakistani authorities,” said Paul Jones, US deputy special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 A transcript released on Thursday, quoted Mr Jones as telling a US Senate Homeland Security subcommittee that the administration had no reason to believe that the militants were about to seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

 Mr Jones was responding to some lawmakers who suggested that the current volatile security situation in Pakistan had increased the risk of a militant takeover of the country's nuclear arsenal.

Senator Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat and chairman of the panel, said US officials were concerned about Pakistan's nuclear weapons, “including the potential for militants to insert sympathisers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities or to seize a weapon in transport”.

 “Preventing Pakistan's nuclear weapons and technology from falling into the wrong hands should be a top priority for both our countries,” Mr Carper told Mr Jones.

 Two weeks ago, Congressman John Murtha, another Democrat, said that if Islamabad lost control of its nuclear arsenal, “I would advise that it's absolutely essential that we intervene.”

 The nuclear issue is among the “top priorities” for both countries and “we have ... within the State Department, people dedicated, or following, that problem,” Mr Jones told lawmakers.

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