By Arun Kumar
Washington, Apr 8 (IANS): The United States has ruled out an India-type civil nuclear deal for Pakistan, at least for now.
"We are focused on Pakistan's energy needs. But as we said last week, right now, that does not include civilian nuclear energy," State Department spokesman P. J Crowley told reporters Wednesday when asked about Pakistan's demand for such a deal.
"I do not know if this came up during our discussions," he said referring to the recent US- Pakistan strategic dialogue where Islamabad had come up with a 56-page wish list including an India type deal.
Asked if the US was concerned that nuclear material in Pakistan was more vulnerable to Al Qaida and Taliban terrorists, the spokesman said: "I'm not going to break any new ground here. I think various US leaders have expressed confidence in the security of the Pakistani weapons. I'm not going to go any further than that."
Significantly Crowley's comments came shortly after Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told a parliamentary committee in Islamabad that Pakistan "fully qualifies" for an India-like nuclear deal as it has put in place effective security and non-proliferation measures.
A "well established, foolproof safety and security culture fully qualifies Pakistan for equal participation in civil nuclear cooperation at the international level, which would help us in addressing our immediate energy problems, and would bring greater stability as well," he was reported as saying.
A top Obama aide for nuclear non-proliferation said in Washington the US favoured setting up nuclear fuel banks as part of new global civil-nuclear architecture allowing countries to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy without increasing proliferation risks.
"And so ideas have been put forward, like fuel supply assurances, international fuel banks," Robert J Einhorn, Special US Advisor for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, told foreign media.
"These are designed to give countries more options, to give them more access to the nuclear fuels they need to run a nuclear energy programme, a nuclear power programme," he said.
"And so we have supported these international fuel banks to do that," Einhorn said adding, This will not be the focus of next week's nuclear security summit here and will come up again at the May Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.