Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pakistan Plays Down Defense-Related US Sanctions

Pakistan says that the United States did not share evidence of wrongdoing before placing recent sanctions against certain defense-related Pakistani entities, but that it has pledged to work with Washington to address all concerns.

A December 15 notification by the Department of Commerce named the entities and added them to the Export Administration Regulations list, saying “these government, parastatal and private entities in Pakistan are determined to be involved in activities that are contrary to the national security and/or foreign policy of the United States.”

The facilities in question are thought to be associated with Pakistan’s missile development program, though officials in Islamabad have not acknowledged it. The U.S. government has not revealed details of violations these entities are alleged to have committed.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told VOA on Saturday that the government was aware of the sanctions.

“This means that for any transfers of technology to these entities, U.S. exporters will need a license,” he said, adding that Pakistani authorities were examining the case to ascertain the facts behind the listing.

Ready for discussions

Zakaria called the timing of the sanctions “intriguing.” He told VOA that Pakistan was ready to work with the U.S. at the level of experts to devise mutually agreed-upon procedures for end-use guarantees.

“This will help in assuring nondiversion of high-technology exports from the U.S. without hampering our legitimate imports for socioeconomic development activities,” the Pakistani spokesman said.

Pakistan officials insist their missile and nuclear programs are “completely indigenous,” and that U.S. sanctions will have “little bearing” on them.

“It means nothing for us,” said a senior official associated with the projects. He requested not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The officials described the sanctions as a politically motivated move aimed at creating problems for the incoming Donald Trump administration’s relations with Pakistan.

Islamabad has developed and equipped its armed forces with a variety of short-, medium- and long-range missiles, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads.

The program has raised concerns in Washington about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, though Islamabad dismisses such issues as misplaced.

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