US Frets as Pakistan Rapidly Expands Nukes

Weapons program complicates Obama's Af-Pak strategy
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2009 5:41 AM CDT
US Frets as Pakistan Rapidly Expands Nukes
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters after his meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 6, 2009.    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – Pakistan is rapidly building its nuclear arsenal even as it struggles to fight a growing insurgency, reports the New York Times. While Washington remains concerned about the security of Pakistan's 80 to 100 existing weapons, the country is producing uranium and on its way to manufacturing bomb-grade plutonium. US legislators worry that aid intended to help Pakistan fight the Taliban may end up funding weapons of mass destruction.

President Obama is pushing for a worldwide ban on the production of fissile material like uranium and plutonium—an effort that Pakistan, one of the few countries not party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, refuses to support. That tension is complicating Washington's joint Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy. As Sen. Carl Levin said, unless Pakistan commits to "eliminating the threat from militant extremists, then no amount of assistance will be effective."
(Read more Taliban stories.)

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