May 20th, 2009
01:12 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton says U.S. aid won't fund Pakistani nuclear expansion

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Hillary Clinton told lawmakers that new U.S. aid to Pakistan won't fund nuclear development."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday tried to reassure senators that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure and that U.S. aid money won't be diverted to produce even more nuclear weapons.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, raised the issue of Pakistan increasing its nuclear weapons stockpile as he chaired a hearing of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

"Are we just giving them money, which is after all fungible, and is going into not fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda, which are groups that are destabilizing that country more and more all the time, but rather is that money just going into the nuclear program?" Leahy asked.

"I think that there is no basis for believing that any of the money that we are providing will be diverted into the nuclear program," Clinton replied.

Her comments came as Pakistan's information minister denied accusations by the Institute for Science and International Security that his country was expanding its nuclear weapons program.

The non-partisan group, based in Washington, D.C., released a report earlier this week containing satellite images that the institute says shows expansion of "Pakistan's key military and civilian fuel cycle site near Dera Ghazi Khan."

Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said he could not verify any construction at the site.

Clinton told lawmakers on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee that there had been dramatic changes in Pakistan since she testified in a hearing last month about the the inability or unwillingness of the Pakistani government to take on the Taliban.

"That has turned around," Clinton said. "What we see now is an all-out effort by the Pakistani military to take back territory that had been seized by the Taliban."

As the Taliban advanced, coming within 60 miles of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, global concerns increased that the country's nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Clinton said the United States stands ready to assist Pakistan in protecting its nuclear arsenal.

"We are assured by the Pakistani military and the government that they have control over their nuclear weapons at this time and we have offered and continue to work with them in any way that they deem appropriate to help them assure the safety and security of those weapons. I do not see that as an immediate threat but it is certainly one we take very seriously," Clinton said.

She also reported that the United States was losing the propaganda war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and said the State Department was working up a new communications strategy to counter "a steady diet of the worst kind of disinformation" disseminated by extremists.

"We are being out-communicated by the Taliban and al Qaeda. That is absolutely unacceptable," Clinton said.

And turning to Iran - which successfully tested a longer-range surface-to-surface missile Wednesday - Clinton said that the United States, working alone and with Arab allies, will continue trying to persuade Tehran to halt its nuclear program.

"A nuclear-armed Iran with a deliverable weapons system is going to spark an arms race in the Middle East and the greater region that is not going to be in the interest of Iranian security," Clinton said. "And we believe we have a very strong case to make for that."

She made no reference to the latest Iranian missile launch.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Pakistan • Patrick Leahy
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. 4 and The Door

    After the AIG and other bailouts went so well, you can't blame them for asking. Their track record with accountability on cash give-a-ways is nothing to be proud of.

    May 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Tim

    Right, it will just free up other money that was earmarked for fighting the talaban so that it can now be used for nuclear weapons.

    May 20, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. US has no clue where funds will go

    This statement by Hillary Clinton is patently absurd. Like Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other country to whom we have sent massive payback, the US has no clue where the money goes after it arrives in the country's coffers.

    May 20, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. RUTY

    That money needs to be spent on the needy in the USA. This country can't afford to support the world. What ever happen to people helping themselves?

    May 20, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Grrrr-awful-o

    @gabriella styler:

    You're mixed up about which thread you're in. This one is about Hillary, Pakistan and nukes. You're looking for the Pelosi/Gingrich article.

    Your welcome!

    May 20, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Just Me

    Obama will just continue to carpet bomb pakistania villages killing inocent women and children

    Obama went from being spokeman for peace to a warmonger with blood on his hands.

    May 20, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. Tc

    Where has all the other money gone??? exactly YOU ,OBAMA ,Pelosi ( all down right liars to say the least} have no idea... Hope you sleep good at night while you screw the American people!!!

    May 20, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Big Al

    Good lord, what happens if our billions to Pakistan is in fact going toward building more bombs and then one of them ends up going off in one of our cities thanks to the Taliban or Al Queda. Thanks Congress!

    May 20, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. MatthewDetroit

    STOP spending money.
    I dont care where it is going, just stop spending.
    Both sides need to cut the budget in half and work on the national debt.

    No more welfare. No more medicare. No more medicaid.
    No more money to ANYONE between the ages of 18 and 65 Period.
    No more money for unwed mothers.
    Stop having kids.

    May 20, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. Mark Cross Junction VA

    So we are sure the 100 million that we are giving them , is going to the correct projects. SURE YOU IDIOTS

    May 20, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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