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US denies working with Israel to take out Pakistan's nuclear weapons

 

WASHINGTON, October 30 (Internews): The United States has said there is  no truth in a story published in an American journal that a special US
 unit is training with Israeli commandos to take out Pakistan's nuclear
 weapons in case of a coup against President Pervez Musharraf.
 The story, by Seymour Hersh, appears in this week's issue of the New
 Yorker magazine. It quotes both serving and retired US officials as
 sources.
 When approached for comments, a senior State Department official on
 Tuesday refuted the story and said there was no truth in it.
 The official added that the US believed Pakistan was well aware of
 securing whatever nuclear components, materials and facilities it had
 and was confident that steps were in place to secure the safety of these
 assets.
 Concern has often been expressed at seminars and discussions in
 Washington about the possibility of a takeover of Pakistan's nuclear
 capabilities by militants and extremists.
 This possibility has been put forward, by both American and Pakistan
 sources, as an argument to advocate supporting the present military
 regime or a moderate regime in Pakistan.
 US officials are known to have engaged their Pakistani counterparts in
 intensive discussions to seek assurances about effective command and
 control systems, and the question was believed to have been gone into
 again during Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar's visit to Washington in
 early October.
 The US has also advocated greater confidence-building measures in the
 nuclear field between Pakistan and India.
 The New Yorker report claimed a US force was training in the United
 States with members of Israel's Unit 262, a commando team that has
 engaged in behind-the-lines operations including theft and assassinations.
 The US unit concerned, operating under Pentagon control with CIA
 assistance, specialises in slipping undetected into foreign countries to
 find, and if necessary disarm, nuclear weapons, the magazine reported.
 US sources are said to have told the magazine that Pakistan has at least
 24 nuclear warheads that can be delivered by intermediate-range missiles
 and F-16 airplanes. However the US intelligence cannot be sure of the
 precise location of all of the Pakistani warheads, officials said.
 US regional experts quoted by the magazine say they doubt General
 Musharraf's ability to control the military and Pakistan's nuclear
 arsenal if there is a coup and say dissident fundamentalists within the
 military might try to seize a nuclear warhead. -Internews

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