On Friday, the newspaper quoted Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, the Pakistani foreign minister, as saying that the US decision to give nuclear technology to India - which like Pakistan has a military nuclear programme - would encourage other nations to follow suit.

 

In an interview, Kasuri told the Financial Times: "The whole Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will unravel. It's only a matter of time before other countries will act in the same way.

 

"Nuclear weapons are the currency of power and many countries would like to use it. Once this goes through, the NPT will be finished. It's not just Iran and North Korea. Brazil, Argentina and Pakistan will think differently."

 

New Delhi is to receive US nuclear technology - including reactors and nuclear fuel - in return for separating its military and civil facilities and opening some civilian plants to international inspections.

 

The pact was agreed upon during a visit by George Bush, the American president, to India this month.

 

"Nuclear weapons are the currency of power and many countries would like to use it"

Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri,
Pakistani foreign minister

Washington has refused to extend the same co-operation to Pakistan. Bush said that the two countries have "different needs and different histories".

 

The United States has been concerned about weapons proliferation by Pakistan since Abdul Qadeer Khan, the country's top scientist, admitted in 2004 to selling nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

 

Pakistan-China ties

 

But analysts say that the growing US-India strategic ties could encourage Pakistan to seek a similar relationship with China, its traditional ally.

 

Kasuri said: "The US should be conscious of the sentiments of this country. Public opinion sees things in black and white. They compare the US to China and feel it has not been a constant friend the way China has."

 

India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998 and have long refused to sign the NPT, the centrepiece of the global disarmament effort.

 

Kasuri said the United States should not be treating the two countries differently.

 

"We demand equality of treatment and we will continue to pursue it. We have a large population and a fast-growing economy. If the Indian deal goes through, there are some things we will do."