Pakistan can produce enough "heavy water" to manufacture long-range missiles with plutonium warheads, a leading analyst of the US Federation of Scientists John Pike announced in Washington on Wednesday. The RBC reports that he drew attention to satellite photos of the reactor and of rocket launch sites taken by Space Imaging Inc (Colorado) which serve as proof. The US Science and International Security Institute confirmed the Federation's statement and added further satellite photos that demonstrate that Chinese M-11 rockets were put on �full war alert� at the bases near Sargoda. Yesterday a representative of the US Presidential Administration, Joe Lokhart, announced that these matters would be discussed during President Bill Clinton's forthcoming visit to Pakistan and India. The deputy Pakistani Ambassador in Washington Zamir Akram declared to journalists that Pakistan is capable of producing "heavy water" itself and that it made to attempt to conceal this fact. However, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy denied the fact that M-11 rockets were located within the territory of Pakistan. At the press conference held by the US Federation of Scientists and the Science and the International Security Institute, the first secretary of the Pakistani Embassy in the U.S.A., Sohail Mahmud, accused experts of focusing their research only on Pakistan and of ignoring the information concerning India's moves to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
Moscow, March 16
The situation in the Central Asian region is getting difficult, the Russian Defence Minister, Marshal Igor Sergeev stated today. According to him, the situation in the region was one of the main topics of today's meeting of the Council of CIS Defence Ministers. Marshal Sergeev highlighted the hotbed in the northern Afghan provinces. He added that he considered the events in the northern Caucasus and the actions of terrorists and extremists in Central Asia as �links in a single chain.� �Our task is to stop terrorists and to prevent them from operating in Central Asia,� I. Sergeev said. The Kazakhstani Defence Minister, Sat Tokpakbaev, announced that his country was in favour of an immediate end to the anti-terrorist campaign in the northern Caucasus, given that Kazakhstan is Russia's closest neighbour and that therefore it needs a calm situation in its brother state. The head of the Kazakhstani military also expressed his country's interest in establishing an anti-terrorist centre within the CIS.
ASTANA, March 16 (THE GLOBE)
According to government indicators GDP growth in the first quarter of 2000 is expected to be 8.2%, with industrial production growth at 15% and agricultural production at 2 to 3%, the deputy Prime Minister Yerzhan Utembaev announced at a press conference in Astana on Thursday.
According to Mr. Utembaev, a production surplus over the above-mentioned period will be achieved in all sectors of the economy, including the energy and coal production industries.
The deputy Prime Minister said that over the last two months government revenue had been 113 to 114% of the original budget. This is a 60 to 70% increase on the same period last year.
This increase has enabled the government to �finance all social objectives of the national budget, including an increase in basic pensions,� concluded Mr. Utembaev.
The basic pension in Kazakhstan was increased from 3,000 to 3,5000 tenge at the beginning of the year.
The Minister of Labour and Social Protection, Nikolai Radostovets, announced that the government no longer owes any back payments on pensions.
Mr. Utembaev also drew attention to the fact that in January 2000 inflation had been at 2.7%, whilst in February it was expected to be at 0.1%. In the first weeks of March deflation has been recorded.
The deputy Prime Minister estimates that, based on the results of the first quarter, the level of inflation will be at around 3%. This is lower than government forecasts, which predicted the rate to be around 4%.
Following the press conference, Yerzhan Utembaev, told journalists that, by the end of the year, the government expected GDP to have grown by 3.2% on that of December 1999.
At the same time the deputy Prime Minister said that the current devaluation of the national currency was "much higher" than predicted. He underlined the fact that the annual budget was based on an exchange rate with the dollar rate of 157 tenge.
According to a joint statement by the National Bank and the government, published earlier this year, the exchange rate with the dollar is expected to be 148 tenge by the end of 2000.
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