Nigeria & Pakistan deny N-tech dialogue
05 March 2004 Friday 13 Muharram 1425
ABUJA, March 4: Nigeria on Thursday withdrew an earlier statement claiming that the visiting Pakistani defence chief had offered to help it to acquire nuclear power, saying it was a mistake and should be ignored.
"The reference to nuclear power in the statement earlier issued was a mistake, a typographical error," defence ministry spokesman Nwachukwu Bellu, told AFP, confirming the reaction of the Pakistani authorities to the issue.
"There were no discussions at all on nuclear power, development and acquisition," Mr Bellu added. He said the portion of the statement on nuclear power issued after Wednesday's meeting between Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Muhammad Aziz Khan, and Nigerian Defence Minister Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in Abuja, should be ignored.
"It was a mistake. The section concerning nuclear power should be ignored. Nothing on that matter was discussed at the meeting," he said. The statement had quoted Gen Aziz as saying "his country is working out the dynamics of how it can assist Nigeria's armed forces to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power."
But Pakistan immediately denied the claim, saying it was baseless. "We are denying it. This is baseless. He (Gen Aziz) said nothing of this kind," military spokesman Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan told AFP.
Information Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed accused Nigeria of mounting a smear campaign. "This is sheer nonsense. It seems to be part of a campaign to smear Pakistan," he said.
A spokesman for the Nigerian armed forces said that nothing on nuclear power had been discussed since Gen Aziz began a five-day visit to the West African country on Monday.
"Discussions have centred only on military cooperation in terms of training and acquisition of new equipment. Nothing at all on nuclear power," Col Ganiyu Adewale told AFP.
Our Correspondent in Islamabad adds: Pakistan has denied that Gen Aziz offered any 'nuclear' help to Nigeria. "It is such unadulterated rubbish for a Pakistani general travelling these days to be offering nuclear help," Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said at a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Mr Kasuri was responding to a question about a statement attributed to the Nigerian defence ministry claiming that Gen Aziz had offered to assist Nigeria's armed forces to strengthen their military capability and to "acquire nuclear power."
The foreign minister said the way the story was flashed "tells you how the media sometimes picks up stories." "So I don't know what to say except to use the expression that I have used," he said.
He said Pakistan did not support such a view (helping others with nuclear technology), especially when the country was seeking the help of the Commonwealth.
Mr Straw said he could not say much about the issue except that when he was in Nigeria before Christmas, the issue of acquisition of nuclear technology did not seem to be on top of the Nigerian agenda.
"But they have got huge oil reserves, but that's another matter," the British foreign secretary said, tongue in cheek in an obvious reference to criticism about war on terrorism being directed against potentially oil-rich Afghanistan and Iraq in its first phases.
When contacted for comments on the issue, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) director-general Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan said the Nigerian government had contradicted the statement attributed to it.
When asked if he had seen the statement of the Nigerian government, the military spokesperson said he was informed by the BBC about it. Maj-Gen Sultan further said the Nigerian statement was quoted out of context.
In reply to a question as to when Gen Aziz was expected to return, the ISPR chief said he was not sure about the exact date. He said from Nigeria, Gen Aziz would visit Egypt and then come back to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, an ISPR press release said the spokesperson had strongly contradicted a news item issued by an international news agency about Gen Aziz's ongoing visit to Nigeria during which he was said to have offered unspecified military assistance, including nuclear power, to Nigeria.
The spokesman said Gen Aziz neither made any offer of Pakistan's assistance to Nigeria to acquire nuclear power, nor did he issue any such statement. The spokesman said that the country's nuclear capability was solely for the purpose of deterrence of aggression against Pakistan.
It fortified national security and it would never be in our national interest to share this technology in whatever form with any other country, the spokesperson said.
Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and it fully understands its obligation towards non-proliferation, said the spokesperson and requested the international and domestic media to refrain from such ludicrous and fabricated stories, the press release said. http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/toptease_5.html
ANSAR AL-SUNNAH ARMY VOWS MORE ATTACKS, CRITICIZES SHI'A IN IRAQ.
"Al-Hayat" reported on 1 March that the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army has posted a statement on a web group hosted by the Islamic Media Center http://groups.yahoo.com/group/globalislamicmedia
vowing continued attacks against the U.S. military in Iraq. The statement, signed by the army's "amir," Abu Abdallah al-Hasan bin Mahmud, criticized the Governing Council for colluding with the U.S.-led coalition, and the Shi'a community for failing to take a stand against "the infidel assailants in our Muslim country." Specifically, the statement said the Governing Council members are "members in a government where the U.S. governor and not Allah the Exalted makes the final decisions."
Regarding the Shi'a, the statement says: "We were not surprised by this ignominious stand on their part, but praised Allah the Exalted for not giving them a share in the jihad and the reward for it.... It is in [the Shi'a] community's nature to stand with the infidels against the people of the Sunnah...." The statement also criticized mosque preachers for not encouraging jihad in Iraq and said that jihad not only threatens the U.S. military in Iraq but "is also a danger to the American people." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
and the related group Ansar al-Islam:
KURDISH ANSAR MEMBER CLAIMS LINKS TO AL-QAEDA.
A Kurdish member of the terrorist group Ansar Al-Islam has acknowledged links to Al-Qaeda, Al-Jazeera television reported on 25 February. The station broadcast a videotaped statement by Hoshyar Salih Hama Arif, who is now in coalition custody, in which he says: "We know for sure that the United States is technologically superior to us.... We do not care about their strength. [Jihad] is the best way for us to win the best reward in the hereafter. At the beginning, we tried to obscure our relationship with Al-Qaeda to dissociate ourselves from the U.S. list of wanted persons. However, when the Americans attacked us, we became no longer fearful of showing our association with Al-Qaeda." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
Comment: these two sunni-groups are trying to start a civil war between Sunni and Shi'ia, like the one in Khaf:
SUNNIS, SHI'ITES REPORTEDLY CLASH IN NORTHEAST IRAN.
Clashes between Sunnis and Shi'ites broke out on 1 March in the northeastern Iranian town of Khaf, Mehr News Agency reported on 2 March. Iranian Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said a traffic accident involving a group of Shi'a and two Sunni motorcyclists led to a fight. A group of Sunnis reportedly later blocked the road on which the Shi'a were traveling and clashes erupted. The Khorasan Province Governorate-General's Security Council brought the situation under control, according to the news agency. However, clashes broke out again on 2 March resulting in injuries to a few people and destruction to some public and private property. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
source: RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 7, No. 8, 5 March 2004