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**August 1, 2005** **Monday** **Jumadi-us-Sani 24, 1426**

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**N-war in South Asia likely, warns US report**


**By Anwar Iqbal**

WASHINGTON, July 31: US policy analysts consider the apparent arms race between India and Pakistan as posing perhaps the most likely prospect for the future use of nuclear weapons by states, says the latest congressional report on US-Pakistan relations.  
The report by the Congressional Research Service, which prepares policy papers for US legislators, is the first since July 18, 2005, when the United States and India signed an agreement for nuclear cooperation, causing a sense of heightened insecurity in Pakistan.  
The report highlights continued US support to Pakistan's efforts to improve its military arsenal and discloses that since 2002 Pakistan has refurbished a substantial part of its fleet of American made F-16 fighter jets with US assistance.  
Referring to a new US-India defence framework agreement signed on June 28, 2005, the CRS notes that Pakistan has expressed concern over this agreement because Islamabad feels that it could lead to "induction of advanced weapons systems into the region" and "the destabilization of the strategic balance" there.  
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri after the agreement and assured him that the United States will "remain responsive to Pakistan's security concerns".  
The report includes a brief review of the nuclear dispute in South Asia and mentions that in May 1998, India conducted unannounced nuclear tests, breaking a 24-year, self-imposed moratorium on such testing. The Indian tests led to a nuclear race in the Subcontinent with both countries now possessing nuclear weapons.  
The report estimates that Pakistan currently possesses enough fissile material, mainly enriched uranium, for 55-90 nuclear weapons; India, with a programme focused on plutonium, may be capable of building a similar number.  
Both countries have aircraft capable of delivering nuclear bombs.  
Pakistan's military has inducted short-and medium-range ballistic missiles, allegedly acquired from China and North Korea, while India possesses short-and-intermediate-range missiles.  
All these missiles "are assumed to be capable of delivering nuclear warheads over significant distances," warns the congressional report, which also mentions that in 2000, Pakistan placed its nuclear forces under the control of a National Command Authority led by the president.  
The congressional paper refers to various media reports claiming that the A.Q. Khan network provided nuclear technologies to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But it also notes that the United States has been assured that Islamabad had no knowledge of such activities and that the decision to pardon Dr A. Q. Khan was an internal Pakistani matter. President Musharraf has promised President Bush that he will share all information learned about Dr Khan's proliferation network, says the CRS report, but not allow direct access to Dr Khan.  

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