Saturday, July 5, 2008

The "Smoking Gun" in Pakistan's Nuke Transfers

In his first public assertions since Pakistan's disgraced hero Dr. A.Q. Khan was put under house arrest, the nuclear scientist has said, "It was a North Korean plane, and the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment (centrifuges). It must have gone with [Musharraf's] consent."

This marks the first time that Mr. Khan has directly implicated President Musharraf and Pakistan Army in proliferation of Pakistan's nuclear technology.

Mr. Khan's latest statements contradict his 2004 confession that he alone was responsible for transferring nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya -- and Pakistan's repeated assertions that its army or government knew nothing about Mr. Khan's nuclear proliferation activities.

President's spokesman Gen. Rashid Qureshi rejected Mr. Khan's claims. "I can say with full confidence that it is all lies and false statements," he said.

But Gen. Talat Masood, a former general and current security analyst on Pakistani TV channels, said, "If the requirement of an aircraft was there, the requirement of dealing with another country was there, it's not just one man who could have done it." Gen. Masood called for an investigation into it, adding "Whether they were doing it individually or collectively or as a state policy or informally -- that needs to be determined."

After having allowed Mr. Khan unprecedented freedom to speak on this issue, the Pakistani government seems alarmed at the unthinkable ramifications of his statements. "The nuclear proliferation issue is a closed case," said Mohammed Sadiq, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, reiterating a longtime Pakistani stance. "We do not think that a debate is required on it."

There are several questions that come to mind in the wake of the latest assertions by Mr. Khan. Who is behind this latest embarrassment for President Musharraf and Pakistani military? What is their motivation? Is this the "smoking gun" that the IAEA and many Americans have been looking for? How would President Bush and the US Congress react? Is there room for plausible deniability for a possible covert operation that may have been authorized by the government in Pakistan's best interest? Where will this lead the world? Will there be a full, public investigation of this matter by foreigners? How many other nations have allowed their scientists to discuss state secrets in such a public way? How often have similar technology transfers by other nations been publicly investigated? Will we ever learn the truth? Will the effort to learn the truth compromise Pakistan's national security? The questions are many, but the answers are few. Only time will tell how this story plays out and and the extent of its fall-out for Pakistan's national security.


Riaz Haq said...

I have had some emails about this post claiming that there is nothing new in what AQ Khan has said. These emailers contend it is all hard facts. Well, there are many hard facts known about Israeli covert nuclear development. But, has any senior Israeli scientist confirmed it in public interviews?
There was this poor guy Mordechai Vanunu, a low level worker in Israel's Dimona plant, who talked to the media once. You know what the Israeli did with him? He revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently kidnapped in Rome by Israeli agents and smuggled to Israel, where he was tried and convicted of treason.

Anonymous said...

I agree to the fact that matters of this level should not be leaked out in public. The 'FREE' media shares this responsibility too for bringing out this to the world and letting this happen.

Why does everyone seem to be acting highly irresponsible these days? What is the truth? Who is behind all this?

All these and many more are questions that pop-up in my mind too!

May Allah Guide us and Bless us all!

Anonymous said...

Pakistanis as a nation don't understand the value of patriotism. When you have no love for your country, what you say about it is irrelevant to you.

A. Q. Khan should, in fact, be tried for treason, as should each of our politicians for the various statements they have made over the years - Nawaz Sharif's recent statements over Kargil, and BB's statements in India about the ISI come to mind.

Anonymous said...

i disagree respectfully---while im no fan of AQ Khan and do believe that he made millions of dollars on da side which he parked in his foreign bank accounts and thus should b held accountable for that, he however does have a rite 2defend himself from accusations and explain his side of da story---actually no matter how much we pakis say 2 da contrary, the culture of democracy and rule of law is still not instilled 2 da fullest in our psyche---Y should the heads of da army, AKA da generals and head of ISI not be brought in front of da parliament and called 2 testify---after all, all democracies have this system of accountability---but then we r not really a democracy, r we---While AQ Khan does share a major portion of da blame but so do musharraf, PPP head, PML,N head and last but not least da generals and intelligence agency heads. They all should be tried by an independent judiciary for treason and endangering national security of pakistan.

Shoaib Siddiqui said...

Mr Sameer, I agree with your statement about bringing the army generals to account, but dont you think that Dr. A.Q. Khan should have said these statements in Parliament and pressed for a committee investigation into this matter rather than speaking to the press about it. If the establishment had stooped so low as to publicly shame Dr. Khan, why is Dr. Khan resorting to the same short sighted tactics of regaining his tarnished respect ?

Anonymous said...

well i think nobody knows who is right and who is wrong.. in the end who is sacrificing..."Pakistan"..

Anonymous said...

Mr. Siddiqui
yeh perhaps he could have gone 2 da parliament but i believe that da media is a better option---da parliament is full of backstabbers, liars, horsetraders etc---Nobody would had taken him seriously---everybody changes allegiance within a blink of da eye---but 2 b honest, it doesnt matter anymore becuz regardless of who comes and goes, we have crooks who care about their own vested interests---perhaps, its better for da govt. to put this embarrassment behind by paying back mr. khan for his "patriotic" services 2 da country by offering him a pompous and luxurious retirement package in some exotic place in da world such as dubai,switzerland,bermuda etc---so that AQ Khan can also stop bitching and moaning about his favors he bestowed on da paki ppl since da average paki person is more concerned with how 2 survive theeze days with high food and gas prices not 2 mention already high sky rocketing unemployment and corruption.

Riaz Haq said...

All governments try and maintain plausible deniability of covert operations to protect their highest level officials. No government (other than the current govt in Pak) permits its scientists to discuss state secrets with media and implicate the entire government as responsible for covert operations. Those who do, get prosecuted for treason. No government carries out open, public investigations on matters of national security involving cover activities. AQ Khan has amassed a lot of wealth for what he did. He has been living a life of luxury in Pakistan, even under house arrest. Khan is a "Wanted Man". He can not just quietly slip out to Dubai or Switzerland or Bermuda. He needs protection for his own sake and for the sake of Pakistani nation's security.

Anonymous said...

perhaps 2 a certain extent thats true but 2 b honest every politician or govt official b it military or civilian r corrupt 2 da head and i dont c any reason for protecting such officials---its high time such officials should b exposed----im sick of ppl who use nationalism or religion as an excuse 2 take advantage of their influential positions by embezzling billions and trillions of dollars over yrs and even decades. when any politician or govt. official even talks about "in da interest of da nation" it makes me sick in da stomach becuz that has been used as a pretext 2 many times 2 justify corruption and repression. Thats da sad bitter truth whether u like it or not. And plz dont even try 2 compare pakistan 2 israel,ie, that Vanunu affair. To begin with, unlike pakistan, israel is a democracy, has an independent judiciarly,non-partisan investigative agencies, rule of law, and an open media. While its not a perfect system but its a zillion times better than pakistan politically,socially, economically etc and u know that. In pakistan, there is rule of jungle and in israel there is rule of law. so if israel did kidnap Vannunu and throw him in a dungeon on treason charges, it was justified and can b excused becuz they have an independent parliament and other apparati that can take on da govt. of da day and bring them 2 task unlike in pakistan where a general or senior politician's orders is considered divine and final with no accountability. And like it or not, while India does have its fair share of problems ranging from AIDS 2 poverty 2 having da highest murders in da world, but it also has some amazing progress in IT industry, computer technology, cinema and arts etc---Indian and India-origin ppl r holding high posts abroad especially in western countries and r destined 2 have world influence in da coming decade---while they r not perfect but they dont have da army coming up and dismissing civilian govts. and they have a much much more open media and a strong independent judiciary unlike us. The culture of democracy and rule of law is strongly embedded in da average Indian gene unlike da average paki gene. sorry 2 state bitter facts, but its time we pakis take a hard look at da mirror and plz now dont brand me as a "RAW" or subversive agent becuz im sick of being called that since most pakis have a narraow and perverse mentality.

maha2000 said...

sameer khan you have to stop apologising for stating your mind to this nation of ostriches who still believe that Pak Army is the best army in the world and the bridge on river Ravi is the longest bridge in the world!!!!
wake up people stop kidding your selves . Admit you are a failed nation because your foundations were based on narrow parochial lines . Look at India . You have been left behind biting India's dust !!!!!

Hopewins said...

^^RH on JULY 2008: "The questions are many, but the answers are few. Only time will tell how this story plays out and and the extent of its fall-out for Pakistan's national security."

Well? Has "time" told us anything yet?

Here is the interview with our "Father of the Bomb", Dr. A.Q. Khan:

Note, interestingly, that he continues to speak with an distinctly Central-Indian Hindustani accent. I find it hard to believe that any Pakistani would speak like that.

In any case, having heard him speak, do you find him credible?

He says he will never do anything good for Pakistan again because Pakistan always abuses those who do good and rewards those who harm it. Do you agree? Does our country reward corruption & lies more than patriotism & honesty (as he claims)?

He also says that he did not make 1-cent from all the proliferations and he was only following Army/ISI orders. Was this not a stray incident by a "non-state actor"? Is our Army/ISI the real proliferator? Who pocketed the millions in cash? Should our Army/ISI be sanctioned or should Pakistan as a whole be sanctioned for this episode of nuclear smuggling?

He says he was forced to make a false confession on TV. This is so disgraceful. Which other country has such humiliating things going on on their National TV? Do things like this not make us look like we are just a dishonest nation of shady smugglers, liars, blackmailers? Or is this something you think we can just forget and move on as if nothing had ever happened?

Well? What are your considered thoughts 5 years after you wrote this article?