- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DEAL DENIED

A report in the New Yorker magazine sent U.S. and Pakistani diplomats into a frenzy over the weekend, as they scrambled to deny that Washington is making secret plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in case of an emergency.

“The United States has no intention to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons or material,” U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said Sunday. “Pakistan is a key ally in our common effort to fight violent extremists and foster regional security.”

She added that talks between U.S. and Pakistani officials over security issues are common, especially when both nations are fighting a common terrorist foe.

“We work cooperatively on a wide range of security-assistance initiatives, including significant efforts focused on strengthening counterinsurgency capacities to foster security,” the ambassador said.

She insisted that the Obama administration trusts the Pakistan government to prevent terrorists from seizing its nuclear weapons. Warheads, triggers and missiles are stored in separate locations, according to Pakistan government officials.

“The United States has confidence in Pakistan’s ability to protect its nuclear programs and materials,” the ambassador said.

A Pakistani government spokesman told reporters in Islamabad, “No talks have ever taken place on the issues of the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal with U.S. officials.” The spokesman, who was not identified in Pakistan news stories, added that the country’s nuclear weapons are “completely safe and secure.”

The New Yorker article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh said the Obama administration has been “negotiating highly sensitive understandings” to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in an emergency like the Taliban and al Qaeda taking over the government.

JEWISH BAN ON IRAN

Israel Ambassador Michael Oren is calling on American Jews to mount their own boycott against Iran over its nuclear program.

“It is up to American Jewish communities to add Iran to their list of causes,” he told the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, meeting in Washington this week.

“Next to banners by synagogues and Jewish groups protesting the genocide in Darfur and the hunger in Africa, there should also be banners calling for sanctions on Iran and to stop the Iranian bomb,” he said.

Even Iran has mocked the existing U.N. sanctions as ineffective.

“Sanction is just a rusty sword,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told Iran’s state-owned IRIB broadcasting company in September.

In his speech to the Jewish conference, Mr. Oren on Sunday also denounced a U.N. report that accused Israel of war crimes in its Gaza offensive in January and warned that the country faces an ongoing threat from Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.

“While Israel recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to a state, we are hard pressed to find Palestinian leaders who say the same thing about us, that there is the Jewish people who have a historical right to a state in the homeland,” he said.

Mr. Oren denounced Palestinian terrorists for attacks on Israel, after Jewish forces withdrew from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza were reciprocated not with peace but with thousands and thousands of rockets,” he said.

Mr. Oren denounced the U.N. report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for spreading “doubts about Israel’s legitimacy.”

“When Israel tries to defend itself from danger, much of the world rushes to condemn Israel for committing war crimes and even crimes against humanity,” the ambassador said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washington times.com.

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