NEW YORK - US President Barack Obama has brushed aside concerns about the safety of Pakistans nuclear weapons, saying the Pakistan Army is equipped to prevent extremists from taking over those arsenals. Pakistans nuclear arsenal is safe, he said in an interview with Newsweek magazine, when asked whether he would keep the option alive to have American troops secure those nuclear weapons if the country became unstable. At the same time, the US leader said, As commander in chief, I have to consider all options, but I think that Pakistans sovereignty has to be respected. In the course of a 30-minute interview with the mass-circulation weekly released Sunday, Obama also said he needs to see how fast Afghanistan can be stabilised before deciding whether more troops are needed. The hardest thing, the US leader said he has had to do so far was to order 17,000 troops to Afghanistan on top of an estimated 38,000 already there. Questioned about Pakistans nuclear arms, the US President said, I dont want to engage in hypotheticals around Pakistan, other than to say we have confidence that Pakistans nuclear arsenal is safe; that the Pakistani military is equipped to prevent extremists from taking over those arsenals... We are trying to strengthen them (Pakistan) as a partner, and one of the encouraging things is, over the last several weeks weve seen a decided shift in the Pakistan Armys recognition that the threat from extremism is a much more immediate and serious one than the threat from India that theyve traditionally focused on. Elaborating about troop deployment in Afghanistan, Obama said his administration felt that the existing approach was not working and that instability in the insurgency-hit Afghan border areas was destabilising Pakistan as well. I think the starting point was a recognition that the existing trajectory was not working, that the Taliban had made advances, that our presence in Afghanistan was declining in popularity, that the instability along the border region was destabilising Pakistan as well. So that was the starting point of the decision. The US President said it would be premature to talk about more troops for Afghanistan at the moment. I think its premature to talk about additional troops. My strong view is that we are not going to succeed simply by piling on more and more troops. The Soviets tried that; it didnt work out too well for them. The British tried it; it didnt work. We have to see our military action in the context of a broader effort to stabilise security in the country, allow national elections to take place in Afghanistan and then provide the space for the vital development work thats needed so that a tolerant and open, democratically-elected government is considered far more legitimate than a Taliban alternative. Obama stressed that the military component is critical to accomplishing that goal, but it is not a sufficient element by itself. Online adds: Answering a question, the US President said, as commander-in-chief, he has to consider all options to secure Pakistans nuclear arsenal if the country gets less stable but Pakistans sovereignty and territorial integrity has to be respected. Commenting on Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said he needs to see how fast Afghanistan can be stabilised and led towards a more democratic government before deciding whether more troops are needed. The hardest thing he has had to do so far in his administration was to order 17,000 troops to Afghanistan on top of an estimated 38,000 that were already in Afghanistan, he added. He did not rule out the possibility of sending even more troops, while stressing such a decision was premature at this point and that US military action is not the only answer to bringing stability to the region. When asked about relieving of Gen David McKiernan as commander of the forces in Afghanistan, he said, That is, I think, a reflection of a broader recognition that we have to apply some fresh eyes to the problem. General McKiernan has done an outstanding job; he is an outstanding military commander and has served his country with great distinction. But I have an obligation to make certain that we are giving ourselves the best possible opportunity to succeed, and at this moment there was a strong recommendation from the secretary as well as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen that the team that we are now putting in place is best equipped to succeed. When asked about possibility of Israeli military action against Iran, he said, I have been very clear that I do not take any options off the table with respect to Iran. I do not take options off the table when it comes to US security, period. What I have said is that we want to offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules. I think, ultimately, that will be better for the Iranian people. I think that there is the ability of an Islamic Republic of Iran to maintain its Islamic character while, at the same time, being a member in good standing of the international community and not a threat to its neighbours. And we are going to reach out to them and try to shift off of a pattern over the last 30 years that has not produced results in the region, Obama added. Reply to a question, he said, No, look, I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President Ahmadinejad, you can understand why. So their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They are right there in range and I do not think it is my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are. I can make an argument to Israel as an ally that the approach we are taking is one that has to be given a chance and offers the prospect of security, not just for the US but also for Israel, that is superior to some of the other alternatives, Obama added.