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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 08:17 GMT
Pakistan disavows nuclear race
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf gestures before his address to joint session of Parliament
Musharraf says Pakistan will not compete with India on nukes
Pakistan will not try to match India's nuclear weapons development, although it will soon test a long range missile, President Pervez Musharraf has said.

The Shaheen II missile, with a range of 2,000km, would be tested within the next few weeks, he told the London-based Financial Times newspaper.

Experts say the missile's range makes it capable of striking anywhere in India.

The nuclear rivals have fought two wars over Kashmir since independence in 1947, but a ceasefire is now in effect.

"We are not interested in competing with India," President Musharraf said in the interview.

"If they (India) want to reach 5,000km, or to have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we are not interested in those. We are only interested in our own defence," he said.

India and Pakistan have often spoken with one voice during global nuclear policy discussions.

At a recent international security conference in Munich, both countries announced that they had no plans to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The two countries, which are holding landmarks talks, have also said they will do their utmost to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

'Sensitive issue'

But President Musharraf reiterated that Pakistan would not allow the UN to inspect its nuclear programme.

"We are not hiding anything...what is the need for any inspection?" he said.

"This is a very sensitive issue. Would any other nuclear power allow its sensitive installations to be inspected?"

Pakistan's top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan recently confessed that he had sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya through the black market.

President Musharraf has pardoned Dr Khan, and many experts are questioning how he was able to sell nuclear technology without the knowledge of the Pakistani military.

President Musharraf denied that the suggestion.

"No sir. It [Pakistan's nuclear programme] is not under the aegis of the military. It never was and it is not now," he told the Financial Times.

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