State Department Walks Back Biden's Remarks on Pakistan's 'Dangerous' Nuclear Capability

State Department Walks Back Biden's Remarks on Pakistan's 'Dangerous' Nuclear Capability
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about lowering costs for American families at the East Portland Community Center, in Portland, Oregon, on Oct. 15, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

The United States has expressed its confidence in Pakistan’s ability to control its nuclear assets after remarks by President Joe Biden cast doubt on the safety of Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal.

Speaking to reporters on Oct. 17, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that “the United States is confident of Pakistan’s commitment and its ability to secure its nuclear assets.”

“The U.S. has always viewed a secure and prosperous Pakistan as critical to U.S. interests. And more broadly, the U.S. values our longstanding cooperation with Pakistan. We enjoy a strong partnership,” he said.

Patel’s remarks appeared to be a reversal of Biden’s offhand comments about Pakistan last week, in which he referred to Pakistan as “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” due to its nuclear arsenal.

“And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” he said at a Democratic Party fundraiser on Oct. 14, according to a White House transcript.

Biden’s speech centered on the geopolitical situation on a global scale. The president also mentioned that the United States has “enormous opportunities” to change the dynamic in the second quarter of the 21st century.

In response, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that his nation adheres to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) safety measures “with the utmost seriousness” and will “let no one have any doubts.”

“Let me reiterate unequivocally: Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and we are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards as per IAEA requirements,” Sharif said in a tweet on Oct. 15.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that he had summoned U.S. Ambassador Donald Blome following Biden’s remarks but added that it would not impact the relations between the two nations, Reuters reported.
Last month, the United States and Pakistan struck a $450 million deal to sustain Pakistan’s F-16 jet fleet. India had strongly opposed the deal, fearing the fleet could be used against it.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later justified Washington’s decision by saying that it was for the maintenance of Pakistan’s existing fleet and to help the country fight terrorism.

“Pakistan’s program bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interest that those threats be able to go forward with impunity, and so this capability that Pakistan has had can benefit all of us in dealing with terrorism,” he said at a press briefing on Sept. 27.