F-16s only if Pakistan ensures tech security
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, July 28, IRNA
Pakistan has been asked by the United States to provide several cast iron guarantees in order to ensure that there is no unauthorized transfer of technology or equipment that will come to Pakistan in the event of the delivery of F-16 fighter aircraft.
According to the "Daily Times", Pakistan must provide written security assurances as part of a deal for $5.1 billion in American- made F-16 fighter jets and no equipment will be transferred until anti-diversion protections are in place, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has promised Congress.
The report says, Aiming to ease lawmakers concerns over the weapons package offered to a key American ally in the war on terror, Rice said in a letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday that before the first aircraft is delivered, Pakistan will sign a document that details Islamabad's security commitments.
In addition, no aircraft or munitions will be delivered until US officials have determined that all security measures are in place and Congress has been briefed on those procedures, she said.
Rice was responding to a letter from Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, and Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the panel's senior Democrat, who had asked her for written assurances addressing concerns raised by him and other lawmakers.
There should be no ambiguity regarding Pakistan's obligations in the security realm, the senators told Rice.
There should also be no ambiguity regarding Pakistan's capability to meet and enforce its security obligations, they added.
Congressional sources said there is no credible effort to do that now and the sale is expected to go through.
A spokesman for Lugar asked if Rice's assurances satisfied the senator, said he believes it is an important response that is helpful in answering questions raised by members of Congress.
Lugar and Biden have also expressed concern about administration plans to install upgrades to Pakistan's existing older F-16s at a location in Pakistan because this might allow China to gain information about the high-performance US fighter.
Rice assured the lawmakers that the updates would not be done in Pakistan.
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