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Chinese children play with an abandoned fighter plane at a playground in Beijing on Monday July 3, 2000. Military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf has said that Pakistan plans to buy Chinese F-7 fighter planes to strengthen its air force. China is Pakistan's key supplier of weapons and a strong ally. Chinese aircraft already form a major part of the Pakistan air force. (AP Photo/Chien-min Chung)

July 4, 2000


ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar on Monday dismissed U.S. intelligence reports that his country is getting help from China to build missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.


A New York Times story Sunday quoted U.S. intelligence officials as saying they have informed both U.S. President Bill Clinton and Congress that China is helping Pakistan build nuclear-capable missiles.


Pakistan and its uneasy neighbor India detonated underground nuclear devises in 1998 becoming the word's newest nuclear states. 


The two nations have fought three wars since British independence of the Asian Subcontinent in 1947.


They came dangerously close to a fourth all-out war last year during a bitter border conflict in the disputed Kashmir region. 


Both countries say they possess a minimum nuclear deterrence. However, it's not known how many weapons either country possesses, whether they have developed nuclear warheads to marry to their missiles or have deployed any nuclear capable missiles. 


Both India and Pakistan have testified short and medium range missiles. Pakistan has several medium-range missiles already in its arsenal capable of hitting most cities in neighboring India and of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads. 


Sattar told a news briefing in the federal capital that the last Chinese missiles to reach Pakistan were short range ones delivered in 1993.


However, U.S. intelligence reported several years ago that China delivered M-11 missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Both China and Pakistan denied the report then. At the time the United States threatened sanctions against China. 


The U.S. imposed economic and military sanctions on Pakistan in 1990 to protest the country's nuclear program.


According to Sunday's New York Times story China provided Pakistan with weapons' grade steel, guidance systems and technical advise to Pakistan.


A longtime ally of Pakistan's, China has built a nuclear power plant here and Gen. Pervez Musharraf last week said his regime would order several fighter jets from China.


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