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World Digest: Pakistan's Zardari cedes control of nuclear arsenal

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

PAKISTAN

Zardari cedes control of nuclear arsenal

Pakistan's president relinquished command of the country's nuclear arsenal Saturday to the prime minister, a political ally, as he faces growing pressure to resign.

President Asif Ali Zardari's office said the decision to transfer control of the National Command Authority to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was a step toward ceding sweeping presidential powers that had been adopted by Zardari's predecessor, Pervez Musharraf. The authority comprises a group of top military and political leaders who would make any decision to deploy nuclear weapons.

In an interview Friday with Express News TV, Zardari said he was also likely by the end of the year to give away authority he inherited from Musharraf to dissolve parliament and appoint services chiefs. Doing that would reduce the presidency to a more ceremonial role, but it also could lessen some of the pressures on him to step down.

-- Associated Press

IRAN

Senior legislator says Tehran may quit NPT

A conservative Iranian legislator warned Saturday that his country might pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution censuring Tehran and demanded that it immediately freeze uranium enrichment.

Iran's official news agency quoted a hard-line political analyst who made the same point, another indication that the idea could be gaining steam.

If Iran withdraws from the treaty, its nuclear program would no longer be subject to oversight by the IAEA. That, in turn, would be a significant blow to efforts to ensure that no enriched uranium is diverted from use as fuel to warhead development.

The threat came from Mohammad Karamirad, a senior lawmaker and member of the Iranian parliament's national security committee. He does not speak for the government, but his statements often reflect the government's thinking.


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