Friday, March 8, 2013

"Eating Grass-The Making of the Pakistani Bomb"-- Riaz Haq Talks With Author Firoz Khan

Unlike most western accounts of Pakistani nuclear program which begin and end with A.Q. Khan's network, Brig Feroz H. Khan's scholarly work "Eating Grass" offers an insider's account of the "The Making of The Pakistani Bomb".

In this interview, Feroz Khan discuses the challenges and the inherent complexity of what it takes to develop, build and operationalize a nuclear weapons arsenal with maximum deterrence value:


"Eating Grass-The Making of the Pakistani Bomb"-- Riaz Haq Talks With Author Brig Firoz Khan from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Brig Feroz Khan's "Eating Grass" is an erudite work that offers the first authentic insider account of the making of the Pakistani bomb. It details a story of spectacular scientific and strategic achievement by a nation dismissed as a temporary "tent" and a "nissen hut" at birth by Viceroy Lord Mountbatten in 1947. That same "nissen hut" is now a nuclear power about which Brookings' Stephen Cohen has said as follows:

“One of the most important puzzles of India-Pakistan relations is not why the smaller Pakistan feels encircled and threatened, but why the larger India does. It would seem that India, seven times more populous than Pakistan and five times its size, and which defeated Pakistan in 1971, would feel more secure. This has not been the case and Pakistan remains deeply embedded in Indian thinking. There are historical, strategic, ideological, and domestic reasons why Pakistan remains the central obsession of much of the Indian strategic community, just as India remains Pakistan’s.” 

Brig Feroz Khan concludes his book on a somber note by mentioning "massive corruption" and "stagflation" in the country he served. "Perhaps it never crossed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's mind that his words (eat grass...even go hungry) would become a self-fulfilling prophesy."

Read more at Silicon Valley Launch of Eating Grass.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Indigenous Copies of Nukes and Missiles 

India's Nuclear Bomb by George Perkovich

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Cyberwars Across India, Pakistan and China

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Space Capabilities

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Scientist Reveals Indian Nuke Test Fizzled

The Wisconsin Project

The Non-Proliferation Review Fall 1997

India, Pakistan Comparison 2010

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Global Firepower Comparison

Evaluation of Military Strengths--India vs. Pakistan

Only the Paranoid Survive

India Races Ahead in Space

21st Century High-Tech Warfare


HopeWins Junior said...

Video is good. Audio (sound) is terrible. You guys should invest some more money in getting the acoustics up to a more professional standard.

Meray dau paisay.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Ottawa Citizen news story on Pak nuclear arsenal:

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), an independent research wing of the US Congress, figures that Pakistan has between 90 to 110 nuclear warheads.

“Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, and deploying additional delivery vehicles. These steps could enable Pakistan to undertake both quantitative and qualitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal,” the recently released CRS report noted.

India currently has approximately 60-80 nuclear weapons, it added.

“Whether and to what extent Pakistan’s current expansion of its nuclear weapons-related facilities is a response to the 2008 US-India nuclear cooperation agreement is unclear. Islamabad does not have a public, detailed nuclear doctrine, but its ‘minimum credible deterrent’ is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against Pakistan,” the report noted.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on China supplying 1000 MW Chashma 3 nuclear power plant:

China confirmed this week it will sell a new 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor to Pakistan that the United States says would violate Beijing’s obligations under a nuclear supplier control group.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked Monday about a report in the Free Beacon March 22 that first disclosed the secret agreement for the reactor reached last month in Beijing between the China National Nuclear Corp. and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

“China has noted the relevant report,” Hong told reporters in Beijing.

Normally, Chinese government spokesmen deny such reports and label them “groundless” as a way to avoid comment. The spokesman’s use of the phrase “noted the relevant report” is unusual and a tacit admission the report is accurate.

U.S. intelligence and diplomatic officials privately said the agreement was reached in Beijing during a visit by a high-level Pakistani delegation of nuclear industry officials from Feb. 15 to 18.

The Chinese at the meeting urged Pakistan to keep the deal secret to avoid expected international opposition by states that say the sale violates China’s commitment to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 46-member association aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

China agreed in 2004 not to sell additional reactors to Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear facility beyond the two reactors that began operating in 2000 and 2011.

However, Hong denied the sale violates the voluntary NSG guidelines.

“The cooperation between China and Pakistan does not violate relevant principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said. “In recent years, China and Pakistan do indeed carry out some joint projects related to civilian use of nuclear energy. These projects are for peaceful purpose only, in compliance with the international obligations shared by both countries, and they are subject to guarantee and monitor by international atomic energy organization.”

However, U.S. intelligence officials said the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) is Beijing’s main nuclear weapons producer and is working to modernize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in addition to the civilian reactor construction at Chashma.

China also is working to develop Pakistan’s nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities, the officials said....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Stratfor's analyst Robert Kaplan on India-China and India-Pakistan rivalry:

The best way to gauge the relatively restrained atmosphere of the India-China rivalry is to compare it to the rivalry between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan abut one another. India's highly populated Ganges River Valley is within 480 kilometers (300 miles) of Pakistan's highly populated Indus River Valley. There is an intimacy to India-Pakistan tensions that simply does not apply to those between India and China. That intimacy is inflamed by a religious element: Pakistan is the modern incarnation of all of the Muslim invasions that have assaulted Hindu northern India throughout history. And then there is the tangled story of the partition of the Asian subcontinent itself to consider -- India and Pakistan were both born in blood together.

Partly because the India-China rivalry carries nothing like this degree of long-standing passion, it serves the interests of the elite policy community in New Delhi very well. A rivalry with China in and of itself raises the stature of India because China is a great power with which India can now be compared. Indian elites hate when India is hyphenated with Pakistan, a poor and semi-chaotic state; they much prefer to be hyphenated with China. Indian elites can be obsessed with China, even as Chinese elites think much less about India. This is normal. In an unequal rivalry, it is the lesser power that always demonstrates the greater degree of obsession. For instance, Greeks have always been more worried about Turks than Turks have been about Greeks.

China's inherent strength in relation to India is more than just a matter of its greater economic capacity, or its more efficient governmental authority. It is also a matter of its geography. True, ethnic-Han Chinese are virtually surrounded by non-Han minorities -- Inner Mongolians, Uighur Turks and Tibetans -- in China's drier uplands. Nevertheless, Beijing has incorporated these minorities into the Chinese state so that internal security is manageable, even as China has in recent years been resolving its frontier disputes with neighboring countries, few of which present a threat to China.

India, on the other hand, is bedeviled by long and insecure borders not only with troubled Pakistan, but also with Nepal and Bangladesh, both of which are weak states that create refugee problems for India. Then there is the Maoist Naxalite insurgency in eastern and central India. The result is that while the Indian navy can contemplate the projection of power in the Indian Ocean -- and thus hedge against China -- the Indian army is constrained with problems inside the subcontinent itself.

India and China do play a great game of sorts, competing for economic and military influence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But these places are generally within the Greater Indian subcontinent, so that China is taking the struggle to India's backyard.

Just as a crucial test for India remains the future of Afghanistan, a crucial test for China remains the fate of North Korea. Both Afghanistan and North Korea have the capacity to drain energy and resources away from India and China, though here India may have the upper hand because India has no land border with Afghanistan, whereas China has a land border with North Korea. Thus, a chaotic, post-American Afghanistan is less troublesome for India than an unraveling regime in North Korea would be for China, which faces the possibility of millions of refugees streaming into Chinese Manchuria.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are bits of info on Pakistan's nuclear fusion effort:

Realizing the importance of fusion and the worldwide effort in this regard, Pakistan has launched a National Tokamak Fusion Program to develop human resource and capacity building. Under this program, the Government of Pakistan plans to install a small tokamak (like HT-6M of Hefei , China ) along with various accessories and diagnostics so as to acquire the basic scientific knowledge and the technical know-how of the fusion technology.

National Tokamak Fusion Program

Glass Vessel Spherical Tokamak

HopeWins Junior said...

Good video of Feroz Khan in his younger days (with lot more hair) talking of nuclear weapons...

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Good video of Feroz Khan in his younger days (with lot more hair) talking of nuclear weapons..."

The US hypocrisy in this video is extreme.

As a nation with tens of thousands of its nuclear weapons on a hair trigger (Pakistan's are not even deployed in assembled form), and as a country that has the dubious distinction of being the only country to have used nukes on civilian population in Japan, this kind of sermonizing by Americans is really ridiculous.

Please read a satirical story I posted on US nuke weapons safety back in 2008:

As to the crux of the story of the 4th of July Blair House meeting in 1999, Feroz Khan talks about it as essentially a successful ambush set up by the White House staff to use cooked up intelligence to pressurize Sharif to order withdrawal from Kargil.

Here's an excerpt from "Eating Grass":

"Alone, and having neither means to verify the information nor the ability to consult any member of his team, Sharif could only deny the allegation. President Clinton was most likely provided with overstated intelligence in order to pressure Prime Minister Sharif."

The clearest hint of the deep bias of the report can be found when one of the people quoted in the video refers to "poverty and filth" in Pakistan when in fact the UN, World Bank and international reports show that there is greater poverty and more filth in India than in Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

As I understand, the nuke program credit goes only to Bhutto and then Zia, none other.

When a program had been going on for so long and reached an advanced state, there was no way that it was going to be stopped, besides the military apparatus was doing most of the work in collaboration with the civilians so they would have pressurized the civilians not to stop it.

So Benazir and Nawaz Sharif deserve no credit. It is even reported that Nawaz Sharif didn't want the explosions!

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "As I understand, the nuke program credit goes only to Bhutto and then Zia, none other."

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto started the nuclear weapons program and then it was continued by Zia ul Haq and Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

After GIK's resignation in 1993, the entire nuclear program was controlled by Pak Army, according Brig Firoz Khan who was an insider.

So the credit for the work done since 1993 goes to the military.

Riaz Haq said...

There are many, including Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, who have claimed credit for Pak nuclear program.

Among the scientists, Prof Rafi Chaudhry and Dr. Ishrat Husain Usmani, both graduates of Aligarh University who later studied in England under Nobel Laureates, were the fathers of nuclear technology in Pakistan in 1950s and 1960s. Then came Dr. Munir Ahmad Khan and Dr. A.Q. Khan who took it to fruition.

Among the political and military leaders, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto started the nuclear weapons program in 1970s and Zia ul Haq continued to support it in 1980s. After Zia's death, it was Ghulam Ishaq Khan who took care of it and then passed it on the military when he resigned in 1990s. So ZAB, Zia, GIK and Pakistan Army all deserve credit for it.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan on Monday test-fired a ballistic missile that appears capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to ­every part of India, another escalation in Islamabad’s effort to keep pace with its neighboring rival’s formidable military advancements.

Pakistani military leaders said the Shaheen-III missile has a range of up to 1,700 miles, which could enable it to reach deep into the Middle East, including Israel.

After the missile was fired into the Arabian Sea on Monday, the head of the military unit that oversees Pakistan’s nuclear program congratulated scientists and engineers for “achieving yet another milestone of historic significance.”

The medium-range Shaheen-III is an updated version of the indigenously produced Shaheen-I and Shaheen-II, which had shorter ranges. “The test launch was aimed at validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system at maximum range,” the military said in a statement.

Pakistani military leaders are trying to maintain a “credible deterrence” as arch-rival India rapidly invests in military hardware.

In recent years, India has moved toward the creation of a missile defense system and is upgrading its air force and submarine fleet. In 2012, India test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which it said has a range of more than 3,100 miles.

India’s growing defense budget is largely a result of its uneasy relationship with China. But Pakistan and India have fought three major wars since 1947. Analysts estimate that Pakistan and India possess about 100 nuclear warheads each, and nonproliferation experts say the Indian subcontinent remains a nuclear flash point.

Several Pakistani military analysts said the Shaheen-III has a range greater than that of any other Pakistani missile. The maximum range of the earlier versions of the Shaheen missile was about 1,500 miles, which meant it could not reach parts of India’s eastern frontier.

“Now, India doesn’t have its safe havens anymore,” said Shahid Latif, a retired commander of Pakistan’s air force. “It’s all a reaction to India, which has now gone even for tests of extra-regional missiles. . . . It sends a loud message: If you hurt us, we are going to hurt you back.”

Some analysts caution that the true range of the Shaheen-III could be less than what Pakistani military leaders claim. But Monday’s test could aggravate unease in parts of the Middle East, including Israel. Historically, there also has been some tension between Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Sunni, and Shiite-dominated Iran.

Riaz Haq said...

Ex-Ambassador Jamshed Marker gives full credit for #Pakistan #nukes to Gen Zia ul Haq …

Retired diplomat Jamsheed Marker talks about “meeting characters, genuine and shady, in tiny cafes tucked away in obscure villages deep in the beautiful Swiss and German countryside”.

One of Pakistan’s best-known diplomats has given an unprecedented account of how his country clandestinely built its nuclear arsenal using its diplomatic network in Europe.

In Cover Point: Impressions of Leadership in Pakistan, an autobiographical account of Pakistan’s politicians, retired diplomat Jamsheed Marker, 94, says: “This exercise involved a bit of James Bond stuff, and I remember Ikram and myself meeting characters, genuine and shady, in tiny cafes tucked away in obscure villages deep in the beautiful Swiss and German countryside.”

Mr. Marker served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany between 1980 and 1982, when the meetings took place, which led to Pakistan acquiring sensitive technology from European firms for its nuclear weapons programme.

“The Embassy had a Procurement Department [the nomenclature really fooled nobody] headed by a most able officer of Minister rank named Ikram Khan, who was seconded from our nuclear establishment headed by Dr A.Q. Khan. Ikram was a superb officer, knowledgeable, low-key and efficient, and went about his sensitive job with the combination of initiative and discretion that were its primary requirements,” writes Mr. Marker , revealing how Pakistan sourced technology for its nuclear programme from western markets.

Mr. Marker’s disclosure sheds light on a wide array of willing partners from among firms in Europe which were willing to partner Pakistan’s quest for nuclear weapons, for a price. Mr. Marker, who worked directly under the supervision of General Zia-ul-Haq, played a peripheral role as the “Procurement Department” operated under a cloak of secrecy.

Mr. Marker, served for three decades in various important embassies of Pakistan, but reached the most successful phase of his career with his back-to-back appointments as Pakistani Ambassador to Bonn, Paris and Washington DC during the tenure of Gen Zia (1977-1988). Mr. Marker said that he admired the way Gen Zia (who became civilian President in 1985) diverted the West’s attention while going all out for giving Pakistan its nuclear weapon. “I maintain a mild, amused contempt for the enthusiasm with which western industrial enterprises, in their pecuniary pursuits, conspired with us to evade their own governments’ law prohibiting all nuclear transfers to Pakistan,” he writes in what is the first account from one of Gen. Zia’s key diplomats on the modus operandi adopted to build the nuclear bomb in Pakistan.

Mr. Marker says the U.S. spy services were aware of Pakistan’s determination to go nuclear and were unable to prevent Gen. Zia.