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l February 2004 l

The Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

l Vol 3, No 9 l

C O M M E N T

Pakistan: Pioneers in nuclear proliferation

Gary Fitleberg


Lately Pakistan has been under the microscope for its involvement in the development of nuclear weapons programs internationally. Although others such “axis of evil” nations Iran and North Korea actively purse weapons of mass destruction their success has largely been dependent on Pakistan’s inadvertent assistance and cooperation. 

The founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has admitted he transferred nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, a Pakistani government official stated. Khan made the confession in a written statement submitted "a couple of days ago" to investigators probing allegations of nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, the official told The Associated Press on condition on anonymity. 

The transfers were made during the late 1980s and in the early and mid 1990 s, and were motivated by "personal greed and ambition," the official said. The official could not give details of the nuclear transfers, but said they were not authorized by the government. 

A meeting of the National Command Authority that controls Pakistan's nuclear assets was briefed on the statement at a meeting when Khan - long regard ed as a national hero in Pakistan - was sacked from his position as a scientific adviser to the Prime Minister. A military official briefed a number of Pakistani journalists about Khan's confession. 

Khan had previously been reported as denying any wrongdoing. The government official who spoke to AP was familiar with the briefing. The government official said the two-month probe into the proliferation allegations had reached its conclusion, but said it was up to the authority to decide whether to prosecute Khan and six other suspects in the case. 

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who heads the authority, is due to make an address to the nation about the progress of the investigation after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, which ends Thursday in Pakistan, officials said. Pakistan began its investigation in November after revelations by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog. 

Allegations of nuclear transfers to Libya and North Korea have also surfaced. The government official said that "questions have been put" to two former army chiefs, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg and Gen. Jehangir Karamat, to check information provided by Khan and other suspects during the "debriefings" - as the government has referred to the questioning of scientists. 

The official stressed that the two generals were not the focus of the investigation. He said they told investigators they never authorized nuclear transfers. However, the official said the probe had concluded there had been a lapse in security that allowed the transfers to take place, although no blame had been apportioned. 

Analysts say that many unanswered questions remain over how powerful generals who oversaw the Pakistan's nuclear program that began in the 1970s - wit h the aim of creating a military deterrent against rival India - could have been so in the dark about any nuclear transfers by its scientists. 

The mission to create the bomb was conducted in secret, using black market suppliers to circumvent international restrictions on trade in nuclear-related technology. Pakistan conducted its first nuclear test in 1998. 

In all, 11 employees of the Khan Research Laboratories, a top nuclear facility named after Khan, have been questioned since November, and some subsequently released. Officials say that three scientists and four security officials - military officers among them - are still being investigated. Six are held in custody in an undisclosed location. Khan has been told to stay at his Islamabad home, where he is guarded with tight security. 

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, Pakistan bears responsibility for the act ions and deeds of its top nuclear scientists who have promoted the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs and weapons of mass destruction internationally; especially with those “axis of evil” nations Iran, North Korea and former wannabe Libya much to the detriment of global and regional security and stability solely for economic profit. Africa, Asia and the Middle East are now in great danger and face risk of escalation of war as a direct result. 

Although Pakistan may not be able to undo the damage done due to insufficient safeguards it must punish those guilty of taking advantage of their position and power. 

Gary Fitleberg is a Political Analyst specializing in International Relations with emphasis on Middle East affairs.

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