Pakistan slams ‘baseless’ claim from Russian senator of helping Ukraine develop nukes

File photo: Pakistan’s prime minister Shahbaz Sharif in Islamabad (AP)
File photo: Pakistan’s prime minister Shahbaz Sharif in Islamabad (AP)

Pakistan has denounced statements from a Russian senator that accused Islamabad of helping Ukraine develop nuclear bombs, calling them illogical.

Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said on Tuesday that the statements were baseless and sought an explanation from its Russian counterpart.

“We are surprised by such an unfounded and baseless statement. It is without any rationale, and is entirely inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-Russia relations,” foreign office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement.

“We are seeking clarification on this from Moscow,” the statement added.

Speaking to Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, Mr Morozov, a Federation Council’s defense committee member, said Ukrainian specialists travelled to Islamabad to seek assistance in creating nuclear bombs.

The accusation comes as Russia accused Ukraine of using a “dirty bomb” against its forces to blame Moscow, a claim that raised renewed and urgent concerns over Russia using a pretext to unleash a nuclear weapon in the war.

“Ukrainian specialists travelled to Pakistan and received a delegation from Pakistan to discuss technologies for creating nuclear weapons,” Mr Morozov said.

The Russian senator made the remarks during a press conference titled “Nuclear Provocations in Ukraine: Who Needs It?” as part of the special project, “Ukrainian Dossier”.

He argued that the ability of Ukraine to develop a “dirty bomb” is not a secret to the world, while admitting there were fundamental and financial issues.

Like its neighbour India, Pakistan has taken a neutral stance in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Islamabad has stopped short of condemning Moscow for invading Kyiv but raised concerns over the humanitarian situation there.

Apart from straining Islamabad’s relations with Moscow, the claims could possibly upset China, a major ally of Russia, whose relations with the country have only grown stronger following the war.

Pakistan prime minister Shahbaz Sharif is on a two-day visit to Beijing as the country’s cash-strapped economy struggles with a balance of payments crisis even before devastating floods hit the country this summer, causing it an estimated $30bn or more in losses.

The allegations against Pakistan come as inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog , has begun investigations into Russian allegations that Kyiv is producing so-called dirty bombs.

A dirty bomb is a type of radiological dispersal device that combines a conventional explosive with radioactive material.

Vladimir Putin has urged the IAEA to conduct inspection of Ukraine’s nuclear sites “as fast as possible” and accused Volodymyr Zelensky was wanting to “cover the traces of the construction of a ‘dirty bomb’”.

Ukraine has denied the allegations and accused Russia of using them as a pretext to escalate the war.