Hillary Clinton proposes joint oversight of Pakistan nukes
AFP - January 6, 2008
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (AFP) — US White House hopeful Hillary Clinton said she would propose a joint US-British team to oversee the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal if she is elected president.
"So far as we know right now, the nuclear technology is considered secure, but there isn't any guarantee, especially given the political turmoil going on inside Pakistan," Clinton said during a Democratic debate here.
If elected president, the US senator said, "I would try to get (Pakistan Preisdent Pervez) Musharraf to share the security responsibility of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the United States and, perhaps, Great Britain, so that there is some fail-safe."
The four Democratic candidates -- Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson and former senator John Edwards -- were scathing about President George W. Bush's policy towards Pakistan.
They said they were prepared to launch unilateral military strikes in the country if they detected an imminent threat or could pinpoint the location of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.
"Here's an unstable leader, Musharraf, in a country with a serious radical -- violently radical element that could, under some circumstances, take over the government," warned Edwards.
"If they did, they would have control of a nuclear weapon. They could either use it, or they could turn it over to a terrorist organization to be used against America or some of our allies."
Obama, who won the first Democratic White House nominating contest in Iowa on Thursday, reiterated his earlier stance that he would take action in Pakistan even if Islamabad is opposed, if there is strong intelligence on Al-Qaeda there.
"Back in August, I said we should work with the Pakistani government, first of all to encourage democracy in Pakistan so you've got a legitimate government that we're working with, and secondly that we have to press them to do more to take on Al Qaida in their territory," he said.
"What I said was, if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike."
Meanwhile Richardson, the fourth-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination going into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, called for Musharraf's ouster.
"Here is an example of a country, a potentially failed nation-state with nuclear weapons," said Richardson.
"We had a situation where (Musarraf) has not gone after Al-Qaeda in his own country, despite the fact that we've given him 11 billion dollars ... He's basically said that he is the supreme dictator. So we have the worst of all worlds."
"What I would specifically do as president is I would ask Musharraf to step aside," Richardson added.