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Friday, 4 August, 2000, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Pakistan's nuclear advert 'mistake'
missile
There is concern over nuclear ambitions in South Asia
By Zafar Abbas in Pakistan

Pakistan has criticised an article in the British newspaper The Guardian, which claimed Islamabad would allow the export of sensitive nuclear material.

The commerce ministry's full page advertisement of 24 July - on which the Guardian's story is based - does seem to suggest Pakistan was all set to export its nuclear material.

Nuclear science and technology centre in Islamabad
Nuclear science and technology centre in Islamabad
The advertisement invited applications for the export of 11 radioactive substances, including depleted uranium, enriched uranium, plutonium and tritium, as well as equipment like nuclear research reactors

Would-be exporters were asked to declare that the nuclear substance sold would only be used for peaceful purposes, and that it would not be re-exported.

But now the foreign ministry says the publication of the advertisement was a mistake, and the Guardian should not have written its article without further clarification.

A spokesman described the article as tendentious, and said Pakistan was not violating any international guidelines.

Clarification

It is still not clear who authorised the publication of the advert, but top government officials say they realised a mistake had been made fairly quickly.

Within 48 hours the commerce ministry issued a clarification and the export offer was withdrawn.

The foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistan remains committed to its decision not to export any sensitive nuclear material or equipment to any other country.

Almost all nuclear material in the country is held by the government, and this incident is likely to cause some embarrassment to the authorities.

They'll now be expected to conduct a full investigation into how the advertisement came to be published.

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See also:

07 Feb 00 | South Asia
Musharraf's nuclear warning to India
25 Nov 99 | South Asia
Pakistan nuclear test warning
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