BEIRUT: The head of the UN atomic watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed El Baradei has expressed concern over the possibility that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could fall into extremist hands, in statements published in an Arab daily. “I fear that chaos… or an extremist regime could take root in that country which has 30 to 40 warheads,” El Baradei told the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat in an interview.
He stressed that he was “worried that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of an extremist group in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. I fear that a war in the Middle East or in the Muslim world could have grave repercussions in Pakistan, more than in Iran,” the IAEA Chief told Al-Hayat.
There has been worldwide concern over the security of Pakistan’s estimated 50 nuclear warheads since Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in the troubled country in November. Pakistan repeatedly dismissed the foreign concern that its nuclear assets could fall into the wrong hands and reiterated time and again that there was no possibility of its nuclear programme to fall into the wrong hands. President Musharraf said in December that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were under control and in safe hands.
“Any attack on Iranian nuclear facilities will only complicate the problem,” El Baradei said, who is due to visit Tehran at the end of this week for talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme. He also reiterated warnings against any attempts to solve the problem by force.-SANA