ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan has defended its nuclear safety record after the US sanctioned seven Pakistani companies for alleged links to nuclear dealings. The suspicion of companies should not be used to discredit them.
Relations between the US and nuclear-armed Pakistan have worsened in recent years due to Pakistan's alleged support for militant Islamists at war in Afghanistan, which Pakistani officials deny.
The US Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce, imposed sanctions on Pakistani companies on March 22, placing them on its entity list, making it more difficult for them to operate and do business in the US To make US companies.
The sanctions could complicate Pakistan's offer to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 48-nation club designed to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling exports and retransmitting materials that could facilitate the development of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said many companies around the world were included in the Entity List of the US Department of Commerce, including companies from countries that are part of the NSG, and that sanctions should not be politicized by Pakistani opponents.
"Pakistan's efforts in the field of export control and non-proliferation and nuclear safety are well known, and Pakistan and the US have a history of cooperation in these areas," the Foreign Ministry said Monday in a statement.
"We reject attempts by Pakistan's critics to exploit these lists to spread slander over Pakistan's non-proliferation pacts."
Pakistan applied for NSG membership in 201
The United States is concerned about Pakistan's development of new nuclear weapons systems, including small tactical nuclear weapons, and is trying to persuade them to a one-sided declaration of "restraint."
The seven privately held companies, which are little known in Pakistan, are accused of either participating in the "spread of unsafe nuclear activities" or helping other Pakistani companies already on the list of entities.
Pakistani officials have in the past been accused of sharing nuclear secrets with North Korea. The government has rejected the allegations.
A US nuclear guard said in 2008 that a network around Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb at home, smuggled nuclear weapons plans to Iran, Libya, and North Korea and was active in 12 countries.
Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Arrangement by Robert Birsel