Thursday, March 04, 2004

Pakistan offers nuke help to Nigeria?

It is being reported that "Pakistan's top military official" has offered to help Nigeria's military and help Nigeria "acquire nuclear power."

Pakistan's top military official offered to share unspecified military assistance with Nigeria's armed forces, the defence ministry said.

Nigeria's defence ministry said in a statement issued late on Wednesday that Pakistan was "working out the dynamics" to help Nigeria's armed forces "to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power." It did not say if Pakistan is offering, or if Nigeria is seeking nuclear weapons.

Pakistan came under significant international pressure after one of its top nuclear scientists admitted last month that he sold nuclear technology to Iran, as well as North Korea and Libya--all nations on the US list of terrorism sponsors.

Gen Muhammad Aziz Khan, chairman of Pakistan's joint chiefs of staff, during a scheduled visit to Nigeria said Pakistan "is working out the dynamics of how they can assist Nigeria's armed forces to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power," the statement read.

The announcement came less than two months after Nigeria announced that North Korea had agreed to share missile technology with Nigeria, an offer that was subsequently denied by North Korea. Nigeria said any North Korean missile help would be used for "peacekeeping" and to protect its territory.

It said it was not seeking nuclear technology or weapons of mass destruction. Under former army dictators, Nigeria's military was viewed as an international pariah for ruthlessly suppressing dissent. Involvement in African peace missions since elections restored civilian rule in 1999 has helped repair its image abroad.

Pakistan is denying it:

Pakistan has denied claims that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Muhammad Aziz Khan has offered to help Nigeria acquire nuclear weapons.

"We are denying it. This is baseless. He said nothing of this kind," Pakistan military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said in a statement issued from Islamabad.

Islamabad's denial comes after a statement from Nigeria's defence ministry that the visiting Pakistani general "said that his country is working out the dynamics of how they can assist Nigeria's armed forces to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power."

The claim and counter claim by Nigeria's and Pakistan's defence ministries follows last month's admission by renegade Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadir Khan that he facilitated nuclear exports to Iran, Libya and North Korea.


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