Possibility of US-Pak nuclear deal needs scrutiny: US lawmaker

The possibility of a civil nuclear deal between the US and Pakistan needs close scrutiny because of Pakistan’s close links with terror groups and a “long history of proliferation” of sensitive nuclear technology, an influential American lawmaker has said.

Pak-US flags

“Despite quick official denials, the possibility of nuclear cooperation with Pakistan requires serious examination. Pakistan has a long history of proliferating sensitive nuclear technology and material to some of the worst global actors, including Iran and North Korea.

“Pakistan also maintains ties with various terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Taliban that have a history of killing US troops,” Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the House Foreign Affair’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade said on Saturday.

“These grave concerns coupled with Pakistan’s dangerously unrestricted nuclear weapons program raise serious questions regarding nuclear cooperation between Washington and Islamabad,” he said. Poe, has convened a Congressional hearing on media reports in October which suggested that the Obama Administration was exploring ways to begin negotiations with Pakistan over a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Among the invited witnesses for the Congressional hearing are former Pakistan Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, well- known South Asia counter-terrorism expert from Johns Hopkins University Daniel S Markey and Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Henry D Sokolski.

“This hearing will allow Members to hear from experts about the potential for such nuclear collaboration and better understand its possible consequences for regional security and US national interests,” Poe said in a statement.

A Republican lawmaker from Texas, Congressman Poe has been a strong critic of America’s Pakistan policy and has frequently questioned Obama Administration’s decision to provide financial aid to Pakistan.

Poe was one of the first few lawmakers to speak against a possible US-Pak civil nuclear deal, when the issue was raised in the mainstream American media ahead of the White House visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“Simply put, Pakistan’s current and past record is disqualifying for any consideration by the US to support civilian nuclear cooperation with Pakistan bilaterally or in any relevant multilateral forum. Pakistan has repeatedly proven itself to be deceptive and deceitful,” Poe said in a letter to US President Barack Obama on October 20.