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US was aware of Pak-N Korean Nuke-ties: US analyst
Asia News International, November 9
Although the US Administration hasn't said much about it, according to
leading US analyst there is room to believe that Washington has all along
known that nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and North Korea was in
And America's dependence on Islamabad in its fight against the Al-Qaeda
network is a major explanation for the reticence.
The theory is that Pakistan may have supplied North Korea with technology
for its nuclear weapons material in return for ballistic missiles and
missile technology from Pyongyang.
According to the analyst, there can be little doubt about the genuineness of
The alleged technology swaps probably went on before President Pervez
Musharraf came to power. But Dr Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice-President for
Defence and Foreign Policy Studies at the Washington-based CATO Institute,
says in an interview with ANI that he (Musharraf) would've had plenty of
influence over the decision to enter into the deal.
"These things may have happened before he became Pakistan's dictator, but
let's remember, in the years before he launched his military coup against
the elected government, he was the head of Pakistan's military," he
"And the notion, given Pakistan's politics, that something this sensitive
could take place without the leadership of the military being fully aware
of it and approving it, is nonsense. There is no question that if this went
on, Gen Musharraf knew of it and approved of it."
Said the expert: "I think it's very likely. There does appear to be credible
evidence that Pakistan provided centrifuges and other technology that
would've been very useful to North Korea in a nuclear weapons development
"I know that Gen Musharraf has denied that Pakistan was involved in any way,
but we've had similar denials, let's say, from the Chinese when it comes to
technology exports to rogue states over the years and yet American
intelligence agenices have been able to establish that China has been
directly involved. I suspect we have the same kind of evidence with regard
to Pakistan and so these denials really do not have credibility."
However, given the close partnership between Pakistan and the United States
in the war against Al Qaeda, US officials haven't said much about the
possible Pakistan-North Korea connection. But according to Carpenter, it's
likely the US Administration does believe the technology transfer took
"I think the Administration suspects that Pakistan is guilty as sin on this
issue, but the Administration also believes that the United States needs
Pakistan in terms of dealing with the Al Qaeda terrorist network," he added.
"The United States does not want to do anything to destabilize Pakistan
or lead to the overthrow of the Musharraf government. Hence the pressure on
Pakistan is going to be subtle and private. We're not going to have a public
row with Islamabad."
Not long after the revelation from North Korea and the allegations about
Pakistan came out, the Washington Post published an article by one of the
paper's columnists accusing Pakistan of being "a nuclear enabler," "the
most dangerous place on earth," and "a base from where nuclear technology,
fundamentalist terrorism and life-destroying heroin are spread around the
Carpenter said that while the article was obviously not written by a friend
of Pakistan's, its premise cannot be dismissed.
"Many of those charges are," in his opinion, "in fact valid. I think we do
have to worry a lot about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, how secure it is, what
the Pakistani nuclear scientists are doing - are they giving assistance to
other want-to-be nuclear weapons states?"
But Carpenter has another serious complaint against White House. "The USA
seems to spend all of its time worrying about Iraq and the possibility of
Iraq getting its hands on nuclear weapons and then passing those weapons on
to terrorist organizations.
"I think the United States ought to worry about two far more likely
possibilities, namely, that Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups could get
nukes off the shelf, if you will, from the Russian mafia or from rogue
elements within Pakistan. I think those two scenarios are infinitely more
likely than Iraq deciding to arm terrorist organizations with weapons of
Not long ago, in fact, two Pakistanis were arrested on charges of trying
to trade drugs for missiles that they allegedly intended to sell to
Al-Qaeda. Carpenter says their may be many more such schemes that remain
He added that "I think that's one example that we may find of rogue
elements. What I worry about are the ones we don't know about. I'm sure
there are others going on. We know that at least two Pakistani nuclear
scientists were in contact with Al Qaeda in the months leading up to
September 11. We don't know how much information was passed, what Al
Qaeda would be able to do with that information. Other questions arise -
has fissile material been transferred to Al Qaeda or other terrorist
organizations? God forbid, would an intact nuke perhaps have been passed to
one of those organizations?"
Carpenter believes the reason Musharraf has not cracked down on these
types of activities has to do with the intense political forces at play
within Pakistan. Indeed, the recent elections there brought the country
to a stalemate. But the expert says it may not make too much difference
which of Pakistan's parties end up leading a coalition government.
"It's a very unequal contest," the ananlyst observed. "The reality is that
this is mainly theatre. The parties aren't going to have significant power,
Parliament's not going to have significant power. You have a rather thinly
disguised dictatorship in Pakistan. This is not a democratic system, not
even by a fairly liberal definition of the term."