Civil nuke deal with Pak would be ‘ill-advised’: US Senator

Washington: Ahead of Barack Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a prominent Republican Senator in a letter has voiced strong reservations over reports that the US may be pursuing a civil nuclear agreement with Pakistan, the second American lawmaker to do so.

In his letter to Obama yesterday, Senator John Cornyn, Senate Majority Whip for the 114th Congress, said “it is ill-advised” to pursue any type of civil nuclear agreement with Pakistan.

Obama is scheduled to meet Sharif at the White House today.

“I write to urge you to address Pakistan’s well-known support for the Taliban and the Haqqani network, as well as to express my strong concerns regarding reports that you may be pursuing a civil nuclear agreement with Pakistan despite its deplorable record of nuclear proliferation,” Cornyn said in the letter.

Cornyn is also founder and Co-Chair of Senate India Caucus – the only country-specific caucus in the US Senate.

Pakistan and its intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), are reported to have a history of close association with the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other extremist groups, he alleged.

In recent years, Pakistan’s support has enabled these groups to conduct attacks on US personnel, weaken Afghanistan’s government, and undermine US interests there, Cornyn said.

Today, the Taliban and the Haqqani network pose an ongoing threat to the stability of Afghanistan, due in part to Pakistan’s backing, he said.

Cornyn said issues surrounding Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal are of significant concern, and serious doubts persist regarding the security of its nuclear weapons.

In addition, it is well-documented that in recent decades Pakistan ran an illicit nuclear proliferation network that provided nuclear weapons technology to rogue regimes in Iran, North Korea, and Libya, he said.

“As a direct result of Pakistan’s actions, our nation now faces long-term nuclear threats that did not previously exist. These problems are only compounded by Pakistan’s ongoing development of additional types of nuclear weapons and the robust presence of Islamist militants in the country,” Cornyn said.

“I recognise that managing the United States’ relationship with Pakistan is a complex task, but there can be no compromise when it comes to preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and related technology from Pakistan,” the Texas Senator said.

This is the second such letter coming from a top American lawmaker. In a letter dated October 20, Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade, urged Obama to not engage in any negotiations regarding a US-Pakistan civil nuclear agreement.

“Pakistan has repeatedly proven itself to be deceptive and deceitful,” he alleged.

“Not only does this country continue to harbour terrorist groups that attack US troops and interests in Afghanistan, they have yet to come clean about previous nuclear dealings with countries like Iran,” he wrote.

“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,” Poe said.