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US Role in the Creation of Nuclear Frankenstein’s Monsters – Lest one Forgets

An article titled “Botched Calculations” written by K.Subrahmanyam, strategic analyst and former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Government of India, in the “Indian Express” of December 25,2010, has drawn attention to the dubious US role in facilitating nuclear proliferation by A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist of Pakistan, including the clandestine dissemination of uranium enrichment technology to China to serve the US strategic interests in the cold war against the USSR. The role of the US in the creation of  two dreaded Frankenstein’s Monsters of the cold war— Osama bin Laden and A.Q.Khan— has not been adequately gone into. Some material on this subject, which could be of use to research scholars wanting to take up a study of this, are appended below. My earlier articles appended below are available at the web site of the South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) at ( 29-12-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )Paper no. 2759


I do not wish it, but  I apprehend that if there is an act of terrorism involving nuclear material in the US homeland by Al Qaeda, it would have originated from Pakistani territory and Al Qaeda would have most probably acquired the material either from Pakistan or from one of the Central Asian Republics. And Al Qaeda’s acquisition of the nuclear material and the expertise in using it would have been facilitated by the US role in the cover-up of the involvement  of the late Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in the nuclear trade indulged in Dr. A. Q. Khan and others on the orders of and with the total knowledge and support of Musharraf, Benazir and Nawaz.

2. There has been a well-staged drama going on for three years now as if the US is anxious that A. Q. Khan be subjected to interrogation by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, in order to find out the full ramifications of the nuclear trade and to establish whether non-state actors might have also  been beneficiaries of this trade, but it does not want to exercise too much pressure on Musharraf lest he incur the wrath of his people.

3. The truth of the matter is that it is not only Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders, who do not want the truth to come out. Even the US does not want the entire truth to come out since it would show that it was all the time aware of the involvement of Pakistani military and political leaders in this trade, but preferred to close its eyes to it for geopolitical reasons. It went after the Pakistani scientists—-but not after the Pakistani political leaders and military officers— only after the dangers of Al Qaeda getting hold of the nuclear  material and expertise from Pakistan increased.  That too,  it went about it in a careful manner in order to spare any embarrassment for the Pakistani leaders and military officers and for its own policy-makers, who were projecting the post-9/11 Musharraf as the greatest thing that could have happened to Pakistan and the world.

4. Now that A. Q Khan is out of the bottle, he is going after Musharraf with a vengeance by claiming that whatever he did in assisting North Korea for achieving an uranium enrichment capability was within the knowledge of Musharraf and on his orders. He is not yet speaking of the US, but wait and see. I am reliably told that he is planning to come out with a statement that the US was aware of Zia-ul-Haq’s decision to give the military  nuclear technology to Iran, but it kept quiet because of the helpful role being played by Zia in the proxy war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

5. Unless, of course, to stop him from making any more damaging disclosures, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has him eliminated and shows his death as due to natural causes since he was a cardiac patient and suffering from other ailments. Before the ISI, with the collusion of all the Pakistani leaders and military officers involved in this trade, has Dr. A. Q. Khan eliminated in the doctor’s cabin, the IAEA should get hold of him and take him out of the country.

6. But, of course, A. Q. Khan, in foreign custody may not be as talkative and as co-operative as A. Q. Khan in Pakistani territory, but the chance has to be taken.

7. Since the restrictions on his interacting with Pakistani and foreign journalists were relaxed by the present Government, he has been making one damaging disclosure after another, but his earlier disclosures merely related to his claiming that the statements made by him in the past were made under duress. Previously, he did not give any details of the nuclear trade. Now, he has started giving these details in respect of North Korea, which is not an Islamic country.

8. The “Dawn” of Karachi of July 5,2008, has reported as follows: ” Detained nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan on Friday accused President Pervez Musharraf and the army of being involved in transferring nuclear technology to North Korea. He said no sensitive shipment could be sent to any country from any airport in Pakistan without the knowledge and supervision of the army. “People know that a military aircraft or a foreign country’s plane was used for sending the consignment,” he said. In one of his statements, Dr Khan said that the uranium enrichment equipment had been sent from Pakistan in a North Korean plane which was loaded under the supervision of Pakistani security officials. Asked what was his involvement in the transfer of nuclear technology, he said only that centrifuges had been picked from Kahuta. Dr Khan said the army had “complete knowledge” of the shipment of used P-1 centrifuges to North Korea and that it must have been sent with the consent of Musharraf, who was the army chief and president. “It was a North Korean plane and the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment,” Dr Khan said.  “It must have gone with his (Musharraf’s) consent.” When asked why had he taken the sole responsibility for the nuclear proliferation, Dr Khan said he had been persuaded to do so by friends, including PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujjat Hussain, a key figure in the ruling party at the time. They said that it was in the best national interest. He said that he had been promised complete freedom in return, but “those promises were not honoured”. Dr Khan also said that he had travelled to North Korea in 1999 with a Pakistan army general to buy shoulder-launched missiles.” “No flight, no equipment could go outside without the clearance from the ISI and SPD and they used to be at the airport, not me,” Dr Khan said, referring to the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the Strategic Planning Division that manages Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.  Dr Khan said he had visited North Korea twice, in 1994 and then in 1999, when he was sent to procure missiles during the so-called Kargil conflict. Dr Khan told Kyodo that the missiles were shoulder-fired SA 15. Dr Khan told AP that Musharraf had requested him to make the second trip and he did so accompanied on a special plane by General Iftikhar Hussain Shah.”

9. For many years, I have been reporting in  detail about the involvement of senior Pakistani Army officers and political leaders in the supply of military nuclear  technology to North Korea in return for the supply of long-range missiles and connected technology by North Korea to Pakistan. I have also been reporting in some detail about the triangular strategic co-operation involving Pakistan, North Korea and Iran  for over two decades.  Almost everything—conventional  weapons or missiles—that went to Iran from North Korea went via Pakistan. North Korea’s long-range missile development programme was funded by Iranian money funnelled through Pakistan.

10. The entire missile arsenal of Pakistan is of  Chinese or North Korean origin, even though Musharraf and others claim that it is totally of indigenous origin. Has any other country in the world claimed to have carried out so many missile tests as Pakistan has since Musharraf came to power?  Does Pakistan have the know-how and capability for manufacturing so many missiles one after the other in quick succession? So many long-range missiles in Pakistan’s possession speak of the voluminous nature of the missile supplies by North Korea. If North Korea has given so many missiles to Pakistan for use against India, it is reasonable to apprehend that it has sold an equal number, if not more, to Iran for possible use against Israel.

11. The truth of the extent of the involvement of Pakistan and Iran — separately of each other as well as jointly— has to be found out in the interest of international peace and security.

12. The entire truth can be found out only if the US wants it to be found out, even at the risk of exposing  the past mistakes of its policy of supporting and pampering Pakistan, right or wrong.

13. Does the US want the truth to be found out?

14. Since Pakistan tested its first North Korean missile in  1998, I had written over a dozen articles on Pakistan’s nuclear Wal-mart. I am annexing two of them.

(The writerMr B Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:


From my paper of April 7, 2003, titled “THE PAKISTANI-NORTH KOREAN WMD AXIS”   ( This was also published by the “Indian Defence Review” (January-March,2003) of the Lancer Publishers And Distributors of New Delhi .

Quote Pakistan’s arms supply relationship with North Korea  dates back to 1971 when the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the then Foreign Minister under the late Gen. Yahya Khan, visited Pyongyang  and sought North Korean arms supplies to strengthen the Pakistani Armed Forces in the face of a looming war with India.  Pakistan then did not have diplomatic relations with North Korea.  However, the visit led to the signing of an agreement on September 18,1971, 10 weeks before the outbreak of the war with India, for  the supply of  North Korean-made conventional weapons to Pakistan. Under another agreement signed the same day, the two countries agreed to set up mutual consular relations, which were upgraded to full-fledged diplomatic relations on November 9,1972.

Under the agreement of September 18,1971, Pakistan received from North Korea, in return for payment in US dollars, many shipments of items such as rocket launchers, ammunition etc.  In the 1980s, Pakistan also acted as an intermediary in facilitating arms supply agreements concluded by Pyongyang with Libya and Iran.  During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, North Korea became a principal supplier of weapons to Iran, which was the target of an arms embargo imposed by the Western countries.  To escape detection by the Western intelligence agencies, North Korean arms shipments meant for Iran used to be received by sea at Karachi and from there transported in Pakistani trucks to Iran across Balochistan.  Amongst the supplies made by North Korea to Iran via Karachi were over 100  Scud  B (known as the Hwasong 5 in North Korea) ballistic missiles and equipment for  the  assembly, maintenance and ultimate production  of these missiles in Iranian territory.

In this transaction, Pakistan played a double game.  On the one hand, the then ruling military regime of the late Zia-ul-Haq collaborated with the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Iraqi intelligence in destabilisation operations directed at the Sunni Balochis living on the Iranian side of the border.  At the same time, it clandestinely allowed the transport by road of North Korean arms and ammunition meant for use by the Iranian Army against the Iraqis.  Pakistani army officers were also sent to Libya to help in the training of Libyan Army officers in the use and maintenance of North Korean weaponry.

During the Zia regime, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its North Korean counterpart collaborated closely for the clandestine acquisition of nuclear and missile-related equipment and technology from the then West Germany and other Western countries.  Since North Korea did not have either a presence or the funds and other capability to be able to indulge in clandestine procurement from the West, it gave lists of its requirements to the ISI, which procured them and passed them on.

This co-operation between the two countries, the foundation for which was laid by Z. A. Bhutto, was further strengthened during the two tenures of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister (1988-90 and 1993-96).  It was during this time that Pakistan failed in its efforts to develop an indigenous missile production capability (the Hatf series) and it sought Chinese and North Korean supplies of missiles as well as technology for their production in Pakistan.  During her second tenure, Benazir visited Pyongyang during which the scope of the arms supply agreement concluded when her father was the Foreign Minister was expanded to include co-operation in the nuclear and missile fields—including the training of the scientists and engineers of the KRL (Kahuta Research Laboratories) in North Korea, the training of North Korean scientists and engineers in the Pakistani uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta and the supply of the No-Dong missiles and the related technology to Pakistan.

Earlier, during the first tenure (1990-93) of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, the Director-General of the ISI, visited Pyongyang to sign a secret agreement with the North Korean intelligence for the joint  production through  reverse engineering  of the US-made, shoulder-fired Stinger missiles and their batteries.  Some of the missiles in the stock of the Pakistani army were given to the North Korean intelligence for this purpose.  The Iranian intelligence agreed to fund this project. It is not known whether this project succeeded in producing an imitated version of the Stingers and their batteries.  The ISI was particularly interested in the batteries because it was unable to use a large number of Stinger missiles in its stocks since the life-period of the batteries supplied by the USA before 1988 to enable the use of these missiles against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan had expired.

Throughout the 1990s, whoever was at the helm in Islamabad, the trilateral co-operation involving Pakistan, Iran and North Korea in the development and production of the Scud—C (called Hwasong 6 in North Korea) and the No-Dong missiles continued without interruption despite Teheran’s anger against Pakistan for backing the Taliban and for failing to prevent the periodic massacre of Pakistani Shias and Iranian nationals by the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba, Pakistan, and its militant wing, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ).

During 1992, when Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister, a team of Pakistani scientists and engineers had visited North Korea’s missile development centre, reportedly for a joint examination of some technical problems encountered by North Korea in the development of the No-Dong.  The same year also saw a visit by Kim Yong-nam, the then North Korean Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, to Syria, Iran and Pakistan in July-August.  Pakistani  and Iranian scientists and engineers visited North Korea in May,1993, to witness the launching of one No-Dong  and three Scud missiles (model not known).

The visit of Benazir to Beijing and Pyongyang in December,1993, was followed by the visits of a number of North Korean personalities to Pakistan in 1994-95  to discuss bilateral nuclear and missile co-operation.  Important amongst these visits were:

* During April,1994, Pak Chung-kuk, deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly, visited  Iran and Pakistan at the head of a team of officials of the North Korean Foreign Ministry and the nuclear and missile establishment.

* During  September,1994, Choe Hui-chong, Chairman of the State Commission of Science and Technology, visited Pakistan at the head of a team of North Korean nuclear and missile experts.

* During November 1995, a delegation of North Korean military officers and nuclear and missile experts headed  by Choe Kwang,Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and Marshal of the Korean People’s Army, visited Pakistan. The delegation met senior officials of the Armed Forces and visited Pakistan’s nuclear and missile establishments, including the KRL The team included senior officials of  the Fouth Machine Industry Bureau of the Second Economic Committee and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation ( also known as the  North Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation).  During the visit, the KRL and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation signed an agreement for the supply to Pakistan of the No-Dong missiles as well as fuel tanks and rocket engines. The agreement also provided for the stationing of North Korean missile experts in the KRL for the training of their Pakistani counterparts in the use and maintenance of the  missiles supplied by North Korea and for the supply and development of  mobile erector  launchers for the missiles.

These visits contributed to the speeding up of  Pakistan’s missile programme and culminated in the firing of the so-called  Ghauri missile by the KRL on April 6,1998, which was projected by Pakistan as its own indigenously-developed missile.  Despite this, the US State Department imposed two-year sanctions against the KRL and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation on April 24, 1998, which expired on April 23, 2000. The KRL had earlier been the subject of similar sanctions imposed by the State Department in August 1993 for its clandestine procurement of  the M-11 missiles from China.

Thus, the sanctions imposed on March 24, 2003, are the third against the KRL. These sanctions have had no effect either on Pakistan or North Korea.  The KRL and the North Korean Corporation are State-owned entities, run and managed by officers of the Armed Forces of the two countries.  Pakistan had used a US-supplied aircraft of its Air Force for transporting the missiles to Pakistan. The missiles and other weapons sent by North Korea to Iran in the 1980s had transited through Pakistani territory, escorted by the Pakistan Army.  Pakistan and North Korea have a joint project for the reverse engineering of the US-made Stingers.  North Korean nuclear scientists witnessed Pakistan’s Chagai nuclear tests of May,1998.  Pakistan has been helping North Korea in the development of its uranium enrichment facility. The two countries have been training each other’s nuclear and missile scientists in their respective establishments.  In return for the North Korean assistance, Pakistan had diverted to North Korea wheat purchased from the USA and Australia and had been paying it from its huge dollar reserves built up after 9/11, thereby enabling Pyongyang to withstand the economic boycott by the West. To hoodwink the US intelligence, Pakistan had got transported some of the Chinese as well as North Korean missiles by road via the Karakoram Highway.  Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in Pyongyang is generally headed and staffed by serving or retired army officers, who had previously served in the clandestine nuclear and missile procurement set-up of the ISI. The latest instance in this regard is Maj.Gen. (retd) Fazle Ghafoor.

In spite of all this, for the US to pretend as if  the repeated violations of nuclear and missile related regulations by Pakistan  were the misdeeds of  errant individual entities for which the State cannot be held responsible shows the extent to which it is prepared to close its eyes to what Pakistan has been doing.  If there is one country in the world which has been systematically violating with impunity all regulations relating to nuclear and missile proliferation and from which there is a real danger of leakage of  weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related technologies to pan-Islamic terrorists, that is Pakistan. The US double standards in this matter  are evident from the alacrity and vigour with which it has acted against Iraq despite the lack of any credible evidence against it and the care with which it protects the regime in Pakistan, despite all the evidence available against it.Unquote.



Gen.Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s US-blessed military dictator, continues to assert, without any fears of contradiction or punitive action by the US, that the action of a group of scientists of Pakistan headed by A.Q.Khan in clandestinely selling or transfering military nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea was a rogue operation without the knowledge or approval of the political or military leadership of the country.

2. In his latest assertion on the subject, he told the CNN, the US TV channel, in an interview on March 19, 2004, as follows: ” I am extremely positive neither the Government nor the military was involved.  The Pakistan Government had carried out investigations into the episode and concluded that it was these individuals who carried out the proliferation of nuclear technology.”

3. His repeatedly-asserted contention has been that after the interception by the intelligence agencies of the US and the UK of a ship in October last year which was found carrying to Libya a clandestine consignment of centrifuges for uranium enrichment got manufactured at the instance of A.Q.Khan by a company in Malaysia with the assistance of a Sri Lankan Muslim, he became aware of the extensive non-proliferation activities of the A.Q.Khan group and immediately acted against them.

4. According to Musharraf, details of the clandestine travels and proliferation network of A.Q. Khan came to notice during the subsequent investigation.  In one of his statements, he has even blamed the US intelligence agencies for not uncovering this network earlier than October last year and asserted that if they had done so, he would have acted against it even earlier.

5. Not many experts and analysts of the world have been convinced of the innocence of  Pakistan’s military in this affair. Many of us, including this writer, have been pointing out that this proliferation started and continued at the instance and with the blessing of Pakistan’s military leadership.  I have also been pointing out in many articles that while the late Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator, who ruled the country from 1977 to 1988, authorised the proliferation to Iran, Musharraf himself had authorised that to Libya and North Korea and was totally in the picture.

6. But, unfortunately, for reasons of realpolitik, the US Administration has chosen to accept the denials of military responsibility by Musharraf.  It has not only given him a clean chit, but has even rewarded him and his country by confering on it the status of a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA).

7. Despite the efforts of Musharraf, with the benediction of the US, to keep his cupboard tightly shut to prevent the discovery of any more skeletons, nuclear skeletons keep propping up here, there and everywhere much to his consternation. The skeletons are there everywhere if only the US wants to look at them.

8. Was the discovery of the centrifuges in the ship intercepted last October the first wake-up call as contended by Musharraf? No.

9. In 2000, Abdul Ma”bood Siddiqui, a London-based chartered accountant of Pakistani origin, had written a book on his reminiscences, which was published by the Hurmat Publications of Islamabad. In that book, Siddiqui claimed to be a close personal friend of A.Q.Khan and to have accompanied him in at least three of his travels abroad.  He gives the following details of these travels:

(Citation starts) “In February,1998, I received a call from Tahir Mian (My comments: He is the Sri Lankan Tamil who helped A.Q.Khan by getting the centrifuges manufactured in Malaysia), a dear friend of mine and a very close associate of Dr.Khan. He said that A.Q.Khan is planning a visit to Timbuktu and you are invited to join him.  My joy knew no bounds at the prospect of spending a few days with A.Q.Khan. I reached Dubai on 19 February 1998 and met Dr.A.Q.Khan. He had with him one Mr. Hanks, a Dutch businessman dealing in air filtration system, solar energy, metallurgical machinery  and materials. Lt.Gen.Dr. Chauhan, former Surgeon-General of Pakistan Army  and now Director-General of Medical Services Division of KRL ( My comments: The Khan Research Laboratories of Kahuta, which produces enriched uranium for atomic bombs) and Brig.Sajawal. Dr.Khan told us  that we would fly to Timbuktu via Casablanca in Morocco and Bamako, capital of Mali. (My comments: Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister at that time)

“At Casablanca, the First Secretary of Pakistan Embassy, Mr.Inayatullah Kakar, received us. The Honorary Consul-General of Pakistan in Morocco Hussain bin Jiloon gave a dinner in honour of Dr.Khan, which was also attended by our Ambassador Azmat Hussain. Next day, we caught the Royal Morocco Airline  for Bamako. From Bamako, a plane was chartered for US $ 4,000 to take us to Timbuktu. We had only a few hours at Timbuktu, which we spent in sight-seeing. We returned to Dubai by the same route.

” Next I met Dr.Khan on 28 June 1998 in Kuala Lumpur at the wedding of Tahir Mian. (My comment: Nawaz Sharif was still in power). It was decided there to make another trip to Timbuktu because the last visit was short and we could not see much of the city.  I got the summons in February 1999 and was on my way to Dubai on 19 February 1999. (My comment: Nawaz Sharif still in power) Dr.Khan was already there with his old group with additions of Dr.Fakhrul Hasan Hashmi, Chief Scientific Adviser to Dr.A.Q.Khan, Brig.Tajwar, Director-General Security KRL, and Dr.Nazir Ahmed, Director-General S&TC Division KRL. Dr.Khan told us that this time we would take a different route to Timbuktu. We will fly there via Sudan and Nigeria.

” We left Dubai for Khartoum on 21 February 1999. The Education Minister of Sudan received the group and we were lodged at the State Guest House.  After making a short stopover in a Nigerian city, we reached Timbuktu on 24 February 1999. After spending a couple of days, we were on our way back and our first stop was Niamey, capital of Niger. Our next stop was N’Djamena, capital of Chad, where we were accorded official protocol. Next day, we flew to Khartoum. After Dr.Khan has attended to some business, we visited the Shifa factory that was destroyed last year by the American missiles. Dr.Khan met the Sudanese President. We were back in Dubai on 28 February 1999.

” We were again airborne for Timbuktu on 20 February 2000 (My comments: Musharraf had seized power on October 12,1999) From Dubai, we flew to Khartoum, where two Sudanese friends joined us. We reached Niamey, capital of Niger, on 22 February 2000. Our Ambassador Brig. Nisar welcomed the group and gave a dinner in honour of Dr.Khan. Brig.Nisar had also served as the Military Secretary of Nawaz Sharif. Niger has big uranium deposits. We reached Timbuktu on 24 February 2000 for a stay of two days and were lodged in the newly-built (completed in December 1999) Hotel La Colombe. We started the return journey on 26 February 2000 touching various countries on the way. We broke our journey in Nairobi, capital of Kenya,  where First Secretary in the Pakistan Embassy Mr.Najmus Saqib, welcomed us. We were back in Dubai on 29 February 2000 after having visited 10 African countries.”

10. These accounts of three of the travels of Dr.A.Q.Khan establish conclusively the following facts:

* He had kept the Pakistani Foreign Office informed of his travels. The Foreign Office had instructed the Pakistani diplomatic missions in the countries visited by him to accord the due honours of protocol to him. * In all the countries, he was received by officers of the Pakistani diplomatic missions and entertained by the heads of missions.

* In Sudan, he was accorded the honours of protocol generally given to a member of the Cabinet and called on the President of the country.

* He was accompanied by senior serving scientists of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment, who were among those responsible for Pakistan’s military nuclear development. They could not have gone abroad and remained absent for days  without the knowledge and clearance of the Government.

* At least one Lt.Gen. belonging to the Pakistan Army’s Medical Corps, who had headed it, and two Brigadiers had accompanied him. They could not have gone and remained away from the country without the knowledge and clearance of the Military Headquarters. .

11.  The uranium enriched at KRL, Kahuta, used to come from Africa, mainly Niger. This partly explains the frequent travels of A.Q.Khan to Africa. From the accounts given by the Pakistani author, two intriguing questions arise:

* Why did Khan consider it necessary to visit the site of a factory in Sudan, which became the target of US Cruise missile attacks after the explosions outside the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam by Al Qaeda in August 1998? The Americans had alleged at that time that this factory belonged to Osama bin Laden and was producing chemicals for weaponisation purposes. Denying this, the Sudanese authorities had claimed that it was producing anti-malaria drugs. * Why was he visiting frequently Timbuktu, which has apparently no importance from the nuclear point of view? Pakistani officials have alleged that he had illegally constructed a hotel there ( Hotel La Colombe?) in the name of his wife. If he was going there to supervise the construction of the hotel, he should have been accompanied by experts in building construction and the hotel industry. No such person accompanied him. He was always accompanied by scientists and Army officers associated with KRL and Tahir Mian, who was helping him in the procurement of centrifuges.

12.  It is reliably learnt from well-placed observers that  it also came out during the recent interrogation of the associates of Khan in Pakistan’s nuclear establishment that after Osama bin Laden shifted from Khartoum to Afghanistan in 1996, Dr.Khan was also looking after bin Laden’s extensive investments in the mining industry in many African countries and that the money invested in the Timbuktu hotel had come from these investments of bin Laden. The Pakistani authorities have reportedly suppressed this information and not shared it with the US.

Paper no. 3427


China as Nuclear Proliferator

by B. Raman

It was known in 2004 that A.Q.Khan, Pakistan’s nuclear scientist, who is wanted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, for interrogation in connection with his nuclear proliferation to North Korea, Iran and Libya, had left a letter with his wife Henny of Dutch origin and their daughter giving some details of his proliferation activities with the knowledge, if not prior approval, of the political and military leadership. The reported purpose of the letter was to tell his people that whatever he did, he did  at the instance of the political and military leadership of the country and that he was not acting as a rogue proliferator as was sought to be made out by the leadership of the country.

2. He reportedly wanted his wife to release the letter to the public if any harm came to him. People close to him had also leaked to sections of the Pakistani media information about the letter written by him to his wife and daughter to be released if he was harmed. He feared that he might be prosecuted and jailed on the basis of confessions extracted under duress or handed over to the IAEA for interrogation and prosecution under US pressure.

3. Neither of these contingencies happened. The Pervez Musharraf Government pressured him to admit those proliferation activities, which had already come to the notice of the US and the IAEA and project them as carried out by him on his own independent initiative without the knowledge of the political and military leadership. In return, he was promised that he would be merely kept under house arrest to satisfy the US and not prosecuted or handed over to the IAEA for interrogation. He agreed to this deal.

4. After the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led Government headed by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani came to power in March last year, it removed some of the restrictions on his meeting others in his house. He took advantage of this to tell some Japanese correspondents that his contacts with North Korea were within the knowledge of Musharraf. The Government of Gilani denied his allegations and reimposed the restrictions on his interactions with journalists and other members of the public. On an appeal filed on his behalf, he was released from house arrest by a court, but was told by the court that he could not travel inside the country without the prior permission of the Government. The restrictions on his meeting journalists remained.

5. He again took up the matter before the Lahore High Court, which ordered the removal of all restrictions on his movements inside the country. These restrictions have been re-imposed by the Government by a fresh order.

6. Apparently angered by the continuing restrictions on him, his wife or daughter seems to have released the letter written by him to them in December, 2003, giving some details of his proliferation activities undertaken, according to him, at the instance of the Benazir Bhutto Government in the case of Iran and an unnamed Army General in the case of North Korea. It also gives details of the assistance received by Pakistan from China for the development of an atom bomb. The letter has reached the hands of a journalist by name Siman Henderson, who has published a story based on it in the “Sunday Times” of London of September 20, 2009. The journalist, in his story, has sought to give the impression that he had got hold of the letter independently through his contacts unconnected to the Khan family and that it has been in his possession since 2007, though he decided to make it public only now. It has to be noted that even now he has not published the entire letter which, according to him, ran to two pages. He has published only three or four paras. He has given some details of what the letter contained about China, North Korea and Iran. He says that the letter also refers to Libya, without specifying what.  Is there an attempt by him to potect Libya? If so, why?

7. The “Times” article gives only details of his proliferation activities undertaken with the knowledge, if not at the instance, of the political and/or military leadership of Pakistan. It is silent on the proliferation activities undertaken by him at his own instance such as the supply of nuclear equipment to Libya and the setting up of facilities in Malaysia with the help of a Muslim of Indian/Sri Lankan origin for the manufacture of enrichment centrifuges for supply to Iran and Libya. It is also silent on his missile proliferation activities. The details given by Khan are meant to implicate his political and military leadership without enabling the IAEA and the US to have a full idea of the nuclear capabilities of Iran and North Korea. Khan has taken care to see that scanty details given by him could not be used by the US and the IAEA against Iran and North Korea.

8. Puzzlingfly, the maximum details given by him in his letter are regarding the assistance received by Pakistan from China for the development of a military nuclear capability. According to his letter, “we put up a centrifuge plant at Hanzhong (250km southwest of Xian). The Chinese gave us drawings of the nuclear weapon, gave us 50kg of enriched uranium, gave us 10 tons of UF6 (natural) and 5 tons of UF6 (3%).” The role of China in helping Pakistan develop a military nuclear capability, including the supply of the drawings of the first Chinese atomic bomb, were known earlier through human  and technical intelligence reports, but this is the first time such authentic details have come from the scientist who developed Pakistan’s military nuclear programme. The details from the letter as revealed in the “Times” article do greater damage to China than to Iran and North Korea.

9. While there has been considerable international focus on Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation activities through AQ Khan, a similar focus on China’s role in nuclear proliferation has not been there so far. There have been many congressional enquiries in the US on China’s missile proliferation activities, but not on its nuclear proliferation activities. It is the copies of the A-bomb drawings passed on by China to Pakistan which were subsequently passed on by AQ Khan to Iran and Libya. India and Israel have been the worst sufferers of the Chinese nuclear proliferation in favour of Pakistan—-India directly and Israel indirectly.

10. Apart from reviving the demand for the interrogation of AQ Khan outside Pakistan by an independent IAEA team of experts, the IAEA should also ask for a full disclosure by China of its nuclear proliferation to Pakistan. An enquiry into this should also be taken up by the relevant US Congressional committees.

11. At a time when efforts are being made by the Government of India to discourage the anti-Chinese hysteria in our media over the reports of Chinese troop intrusions into Indian territory, the disclosures in AQ Khan’s letter of details of the Chinese assistance in developing an atomic bomb for possible use against India would add to the suspicions and fears in the Indian civil society over what they see as China’s malevolent attitude towards India. If China really values improved relations with India, it should volunteer a full disclosure of its nuclear supply relationship with Pakistan and give credible assurances to the Indian people that such instances will not recur in future. Unless and until this is done the trust deficit between the two countries will continue to remain wide.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:

Botched calculations

K. Subrahmanyam Posted: Sat Dec 25 2010, 02:30 hrs

I read the recently declassified account of former US Ambassador Robert F. Goheen’s interview with Morarji Desai on June 7, 1979, as a person then involved with the Indian side of decision-making (‘US ’79 memo: Let’s sell Pakistan F-16s and prevent n-proliferation,’ IE, December 24). I wonder whether this was an input sought by the US national security establishment before the issue of the infamous national security presidential directive of July 3, 1979, authorising joint US-Pakistan operations in Afghanistan, which, in due course, triggered the Soviet intervention in December 1979. In retrospect, it would appear that the presidential directive instigated by national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski led to the biggest-ever setback to American national security. First, it led to the rise of jihadism, as a result of the combined strategy adopted by the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This has recently been admitted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It also resulted in the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Pakistan, which enabled Islamabad to develop the nuclear deterrent derivative of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, to be used not only against India but the US as well. The link between the CIA and Dr A.Q. Khan, even before he arrived with all his purloined documentation in Pakistan, has been exposed by the disclosures of Ruud Lubbers, the former Dutch prime minister. The fact is that in spite of his known record, not only was he allowed to move freely between China, Pakistan and Europe, but he was also rescued for the second time from Dutch authorities in 1986 by CIA intervention. That would indicate that the CIA had an interest in Khan throughout the period. The issue that has not so far been explored by American as well as Indian scholars of proliferation was, firstly, the connection between the CIA and Khan and, secondly, the US interest in permitting nuclear proliferation to Pakistan. Brzezinski has since come out with the disclosures that permissiveness of nuclear proliferation was the price to be paid to obtain Pakistani support for the anti-Soviet campaign. In 1982, in discussions between Alexander Haig, the US secretary of state, and the Pakistani team led by Agha Shahi and General K. M. Arif (referred to in General Arif’s book, Serving with Zia), Haig agreed that the Pakistani nuclear programme would not come in the way of US-Pakistan collaboration. The extensive proliferation activity by China to Pakistan during this period has been disclosed in Khan’s letters to his wife, when he feared that he was going to be proceeded against, copies of which have been made available by the correspondent Simon Henderson. Most of the information on Khan being set up with a Manhattan Project-type exclusive military programme under an engineering general, and data on the imports, were all available even in India at that time. The Indian Joint Intelligence Committee chaired by me concluded in January 1979 that Pakistan was on its way to the acquisition of nuclear weapons. The intelligence-gathering effort at that time was ably headed by K. Santhanam as deputy director of R&AW. The JIC’s report was considered by the cabinet committee on political affairs in March 1979. During the course of the discussion, I was told by the then cabinet secretary, Nirmal Mukarji, that while Morarji Desai and Atal Bihari Vajpayee were against any immediate action, the other three cabinet members — H.M. Patel, Jagjivan Ram, and Charan Singh — were clearly in favour of initiating appropriate action. On the basis of the information given to me, I wrote out a manuscript minute, in my capacity as additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, that appropriate directions were issued to the chairman. Morarji Desai approved this minute and the cabinet secretary asked me to deliver it in person to Homi Sethna in Bombay, which I did. The meeting itself was attended by the five ministers, the cabinet secretary, the secretary to the prime minister, V. Shankar, and Sethna. All the other secretaries were kept out of the meeting. Therefore, there are unlikely to be any records on those events in the Cabinet Secretariat. Reflecting over those developments in hindsight, and with the wisdom and information of the last 30 years, I am left with a number of very puzzling questions on US policy and conduct. The enormous amount of material available on Chinese proliferation help to Pakistan has been referred to in the Santhanam’s deposition to the Kargil Review Committee. We have so far been speculating on Chinese proliferation to Pakistan. If we take into account the Cold War situation then, and the policies pursued by people like Carter and Reagan, it is today a legitimate issue to investigate whether A.Q. Khan and Pakistan were used by the US as a conduit to deliver centrifuge technology to China. Centrifuge technology was developed by Gernot Zippe, a German prisoner of war in Russian hands, in the 1950s. After his release, it was developed by the Germans and transmitted to Almelo where Khan was employed. Were the Americans interested in improvising and increasing the efficiency of the Chinese nuclear weapons programme as one of the countervailing elements in their Cold War against the Soviet Union? Just as they used Catholicism in Eastern Europe, Islam in Brzezinski’s “Arc of Crisis”, and the Star Wars programme to increase the burden on the Soviet Union, were they also trying to strengthen the Chinese nuclear programme vis-à-vis the Soviet Union by using Khan and Pakistan as conduits? It is to be recalled that there was–– major debate in the US establishment at that stage. Already by 1977, views emerged in sections of the CIA that the Soviet economy was declining and the Soviet Union was heading for a crisis. At that time, the deputy director of the CIA in charge of the Soviet Union was Robert Gates. This view was challenged by hardliners — including Brzezinski — who then set up a “Team B” which included people like Paul Wolfowitz, who came to a different conclusion: that the Soviet Union did constitute a very serious and major threat. The US has committed strategic blunders like mistaking Vietnamese nationalism as an extension of Chinese communism, not understanding the risks in the use of jihadism, and being permissive of Pakistani proliferation. Could there have been yet another major US blunder in trying to convey centrifuge technology to China using Pakistan and Khan? The US may have calculated that Pakistan and Khan would be under their effective control, just like these other previous miscalculations. This is an issue that needs to be pursued.

The writer is a senior defence analyst

From The Sunday Times

August 24, 2008

Pakistan’s Dr Nuke bids for the presidency

The ‘rogue scientist’ blamed for selling bomb secrets has strong popular support, writes his confidant

Simon Henderson

After the resignation of Pervez Musharraf, who will be the next president of Pakistan? A controversial politician such as Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, or a nonpolitical figure? If the latter, it might, just might, be the detained nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Last week a group of lawyers in the Pakistani city of Lahore marched in support of Khan’s candidacy. His actual election, requiring a majority vote in the national assembly, would shock the world, which was aghast at revelations, four years ago, that Khan had sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. But it would be justice of sorts.

Khan was not a rogue agent selling centrifuges to enrich uranium – and enrich himself. He was a loyal and obedient servant of a succession of military and political regimes in Islamabad. Generals and prime ministers traded his talents, which also included making an atomic bomb and two different missiles capable of carrying it, for a range of diplomatic and political favours.

That, at least, is his story. He has been telling it to me for more than a year, correcting what he regards as the falsehoods and errors in the books published about him. Their authors never managed to contact Khan so relied on the claims of his detrac-tors. But, circumventing his guards, I did manage to reach him and made a simple request: tell me your version. I have hundreds of thousands of his words, as well as letters, photographs and video. My biography of him is nearly complete.

Khan’s fall from grace was spectacular. Twice awarded Pakistan’s highest honour for leading the teams that created the country’s nuclear strike force, he was forced to make a televised confession about his proliferation activities – and take all the blame himself. For four years he has been confined to his Islamabad home. Yet in neighbouring rival India, A P J Abdul Kalam, seen as Khan’s counterpart and popularly known as “the missile man”, went on to serve as his nation’s president from 2002 to 2007.

The political demise of Musharraf still leaves several obstacles to Khan’s rehabilitation, never mind his election as head of state. There are many people who do not want the real story to emerge. Musharraf himself said in June that the true story “is a confidential issue . . . a very serious matter, as Pakistan may suffer”.

Within Pakistan, Khan’s successes – and impatience with bureaucratic obstacles and rivals – caused much envy and anger. For three decades a sub-plot of the country’s nuclear programme was the antagonism between the Khan Research Laboratories and the country’s official nuclear authority, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

Pakistani leaders encouraged rivalry between the teams trying to make highly enriched uranium and the other nuclear explosive, plutonium. Khan’s team won. His team was also the recipient of a gift from China of a design for an atomic bomb and enough highly enriched uranium for two devices, after Beijing decided to back Khan to jump-start Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. I remember being told about China’s nuclear generosity by an outraged British official in the 1980s. I later asked what Beijing had received in return. It was an enrichment plant.

The plant is at Hanzhong in central China. C-130 Hercules transports of the Pakistan air force made more than 100 flights to China carrying centrifuge equipment. Beijing needed the plant, not for bombs but to fuel its nuclear power plants. Centrifuge technology is good for both levels of enrichment, hence the current concern that Iran’s nascent plant at Natanz has a military purpose. China could not make the Pakistan-supplied centrifuges work properly, so replaced them with Russian centrifuges. What happened to the Pakistani centrifuges? A good question. They were not returned to Pakistan. Could they have ended up in Iran?

Pakistani nuclear cooperation with Iran began after a visit from Ali Khamenei, then Iran’s president and now supreme leader, in 1986. The collaboration was ordered by President Zia ul-Haq, then Pakistan’s military dictator who, five years earlier, had publicly declared that Pakistan would “acquire [nuclear technology] . . . even if we have to beg, borrow or steal [it]”.

Many outsiders first heard of Khan after Colonel Gadaffi’s sudden announcement in 2003 that Libya was giving up its weapons of mass destruction programmes. Foreign businessmen who had supplied Khan had been commissioned by the Libyans to build an enrichment plant. The whole deal had been instigated by Bhutto, assassinated in December 2007, but, confronted by the US, Musharraf blamed Khan, prompting the nuclear scientist’s arrest and incarceration. The explanation suited Washington which, post 9/11, needed Pakistan’s help to fight Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and stop the use of sanctuaries in the border region.

Apart from Iran and Libya, the other main sin laid at Khan’s door is North Korea. Having built an atomic bomb for Pakistan by 1984, Khan had no means of being able to deliver it. One version was adapted for use by Pakistan’s American-supplied F-16 fighter bombers; another was put on the Ghaznavi missile, the first Pakistan-produced version of China’s M-11 rocket. It was not until Khan won authorisation to buy manufacturing rights for North Korea’s No-dong missile that Pakistan had a missile capable of reaching nearly all of neighbouring India, which had first tested a bomb in 1974.

The North Korean missile, known in Pakistan as the Ghauri (and, in Iran, as the Shehab-3), was manufactured at the Kahuta enrichment facility outside Islamabad. While at Kahuta, North Korean scientists helped fit the nuclear warhead to the Ghauri and also learnt about centrifuges.

In his biography, Musharraf said Khan had shipped examples of centrifuges to North Korea. Correct, but with the connivance and at the instruction of the Pakistan military. North Korea now probably has a functioning enrichment plant but has not admitted its existence to US diplomats negotiating the country’s de-nuclearisa-tion. It is already sitting on a stockpile of highly enriched uranium courtesy of Sta-lin, the Soviet leader.

Musharraf’s depiction of Khan as a rogue agent, and the international acceptance of this tale, had led to moments of farce. To the bemusement of foreign officials, one of the officials sent to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, had been involved in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s own clandestine purchasing network.

The notion that Khan might be a credible candidate to be Pakistan’s next president will cause apoplexy for many in Washington DC. But President Bush’s officials realise that, denied access to Khan, they had to rely on the version of what he did supplied to them by Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.

A postscript: Khan’s activities give a new explanation for the crash of President Zia’s C-130 plane in 1988, in which Arnold Raphel, the US ambassador, and General Herbert Wassom, head of the military mission, also died. Wing Commander Mash’hood Hassan, the plane’s pilot, had also been flying Khan’s centrifuge equipment to China. On one such trip he confided in a colleague of Khan that he hated Zia, holding him responsible for the murder of a local religious leader: “The day Zia flies with me,that will be his last flight.” The aircraft plummeted to the ground soon after taking off, killing all on board.

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