July 27, 2006 - MARKEY MOVES TO BLOCK SALE OF FIGHTERS TO PAKISTAN UNLESS CONSTRUCTION OF PAKISTANI NUCLEAR REACTOR STOPS

Washington, DC -- Today, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Taskforce on Nonproliferation, introduced a bill which would block the Bush Administration's proposal to sell 36 F-16 C/D Block 50/52 Falcon combat aircraft to Pakistan, along with related support equipment and weaponry.  Markey’s bill would prevent the F-16 sale from going forward unless the President certifies to the Congress that Pakistan has terminated construction of its plutonium production reactor.  Earlier this week, press reports revealed that Pakistan has been building a new 1000 megawatt plutonium production reactor that is capable of producing enough weapons-grade plutonium to allow Pakistan to build up to 50 nuclear bombs per year.   F-16 aircraft are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Markey said, “We should pressure India and Pakistan to stop producing plutonium and enrich uranium for nuclear bombs, not give them the tools to make and deliver those weapons with greater ease.  These F-16 aircraft are capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and if this arms sale goes through, we will only be putting additional fuel on the fire of an Indian-Pakistan nuclear arms race.”

“The Administration withheld critical information from Congress about Pakistan’s construction of an enormous new plutonium-production reactor, they stonewalled efforts by Congress to get critical information about India’s illicit nuclear procurement activities and nonproliferation record, and they delayed notification of plans to sell advanced F-16 aircraft to Pakistan.  We should not proceed with this arms sale unless the U.S. can prove that Pakistan is not moving forward with a nuclear reactor that, once completed, could be used to increase Pakistan's annual nuclear weapons production capability from an estimated 7 bombs a year up to an estimated 50 bombs a year,” Markey continued. 

Markey concluded, “If Pakistan, whose government is already threatened by Islamic fundamentalists, finishes construction of this reactor and ramps up production of fissile materials, it only increases the odds that someday soon nuclear terrorism will become a harsh reality.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein
202.225.2836