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World - Asia-Pacific

Pakistan: U.S. 'guessing' about imminent nuclear test

Pakistan tested a long-range missile last month   
May 27, 1998
Web posted at: 10:51 a.m. EDT (1451 GMT)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Reports that Pakistan is close to conducting a nuclear test were dismissed by Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan on Wednesday as the work of U.S. intelligence officials trying "to make an intelligence guess." But he repeated that such a test was being planned in response to Indian explosions earlier this month.

"The question is not if but when Pakistan will test," Khan told CNN in Islamabad.

Based on information from U.S. intelligence sources, CNN reported on Tuesday that Pakistan had completed preparations for a nuclear test and could proceed in a matter of hours if it decided to go ahead.

"Western intelligence agencies... have no information (on when a test might take place)," Khan said on Wednesday. "Intelligence agencies in the West are completely off the mark."

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week said Pakistan can detonate its nuclear device within 12 to 24 hours of a decision.

India conducted three underground tests on May 11 and two more on May 13, bringing worldwide condemnation and sanctions from the United States and Japan.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee offered on Wednesday to work toward a "no-first-use" pact with Pakistan to prevent the two countries from ever attacking each other with nuclear arms.


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