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11th-hour try to block US F-16 sale to Pakistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A handful of U.S. lawmakers have launched an 11th-hour attempt to block the sale of U.S.-made F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan but have garnered little immediate support.

Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ed Markey introduced a bill on Thursday to bar the sale unless
President George W. Bush certifies that Pakistan has stopped building a big, newly-reported, plutonium-production reactor.


F-16s were 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."

Barring a resolution of disapproval in both houses of Congress by this weekend, Bush will have the authority to go ahead with the supply to Pakistan of up to 36 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16C/D models and related gear worth up to $5.1 billion if all options are exercised.


The White House acknowledged on Monday that the U.S. government had long known of the Pakistani heavy-water reactor project that might produce enough plutonium for 50 bombs a year. It said it was working to dissuade Pakistan from using the plant to expand its nuclear arsenal.
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