DAYS AFTER Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif threatened to use nuclear weapons against India, the United States is learnt to have conveyed its displeasure over the remarks.
US Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference that nuclear-capable states have “a very clear responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities”.
“We made that (US objection on nuclear threat) clear to them (Pakistan) — repeatedly,” a senior State Department official said in Washington DC.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, did not reveal the level at which the message was conveyed to Pakistan. “It is very concerning. It is a serious thing,” the official said when asked about Khawaja Asif’s assertions, twice in the last 15 days, that his country could use nuclear weapons against India.
“We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us,” Asif told a Pakistani news channel in his latest interview. “Pakistan Army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India. We have not made atomic device to display in a showcase. If such a situation arises, we will use it (nuclear weapons) and eliminate India.” The statement raised eyebrows in the Obama administration and is seen as “irresponsible” behaviour by top Pakistani leadership.
Acknowledging that it has concerns over the safety of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, the official said the US is closely monitoring the safety and security of those weapons of mass destruction. “The safety of these weapons is always a concern for us. So, we are always monitoring it, regardless of what they said on this particular occasion,” the State Department official said.
While Delhi is a bit concerned about these threats, India is understood to have been assured by US officials on this issue. Sources said the US has had conversations with Pakistan on this subject.