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Pakistan to Replace Top Nuclear-Arms Official

Pakistan has named a new leader for its Strategic Plans Division, which develops and safeguards the nation's nuclear arsenal, Kyodo News reports.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reportedly gave final approval for Lt. Gen. Zubair Hayat's appointment as the army organization's director general. The Strategic Plans Division oversees all national offices engaged in nuclear-arms and missile activities.

Defense insiders suggested Hayat's appointment took place at the behest of Gen. Raheel Sharif and Gen. Rashid Mehmoud, who last month respectively assumed the positions of Pakistani army chief of staff and chairman of the nation's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Hayat is presently leading the Bahawalpur Corps of the Pakistani army.

The officer would succeed Khalid Kidwai, a retired three-star general who has led the Strategic Plans Division since playing a central role in its 1999 creation. Kidwai is credited with the development of measures to defend Pakistan's missiles and atomic arsenal, as well as the Army Strategic Forces Command that now oversees an array of nuclear-capable battlefield missiles.

The creation of the Strategic Plans Division centralized administration of Pakistan's various nuclear-arms offices in 1999, the year after the country conducted its first and only nuclear tests.

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