The Islamic Bomb. By Asif

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Not that long ago, the United States publicly accused Pakistan of passing on nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Pakistan's leader General Pervez Musharraf, promised to open a formal investigation into the matter.

Today the results of that investigation have begun appearing in reputable publications. The brief quotes below, together with some of my thoughts, come from Dawn, Pakistan's largest English daily
(http://www.dawn.com/2004/02/02/top2.htm) and an article in today's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47-2004Jan30.html). I would encourage those who have the time to read both articles carefully and in full.
In short, the articles suggest that the investigation by General Musharraf has indeed found overwhelming evidence that Pakistan exported nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. While that may not be a surprise, many may be surprised to read who is at the center of the illegal exportation program. Many, I think, were expecting the investigation to expose some mid-level officials with radical Islamic ties. Instead, the key figure appears to be none other than Dr. A. Q. Khan, the father, and head of Pakistan's atomic bomb. And while the investigation does suggest that Dr. Khan made money off of the exportation of technology, according to Dawn his primary motivation was not money.
"Dr Khan was motivated enough to make other Islamic countries nuclear power also so that intense Western pressure on Pakistan's nuclear power could be eased,"
According to the Washington Post article (written by Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan), there were several incentives that pushed Pakistan to build and explode their bomb--in spite of intense U.S. pressure to not build or explode a bomb. As many of you will remember, the United States offered a large financial aid package to Pakistan if they would abandon their program. The U.S. also promised severe financial sanctions on Pakistan if they did test a bomb. Pakistan decided to explode a few bombs anyway, and the United States, as promised, put severe sanctions on Pakistan. After a couple years, there was a real fear that Pakistan would financially collapse. While some of the sanctions were suspended before Bush took office, it was only after Sept. 11th, and General Musharraf's decision to side with the United States in it's war on 'terror', that most U.S. penalties against Pakistan appear to have been suspended or dropped. I don't know the exact status of those sanctions today, but if they still exist, they do not appear to be a significant financial burden for Pakistan. So what does the Washington Post tell us motivated Pakistan to build the bomb?
"For one, it wanted (and gained) the support of hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over by claiming to provide a Muslim success story. (That this involved replicating a 60-year-old technology for mass destruction is a sad commentary on the state of the Muslim world.) For another, it enabled Pakistan to enjoy considerable financial and political benefits from oil-rich Arab countries. Among others, Libya reportedly bankrolled Pakistan and may even have supplied raw uranium. After Pakistan's nuclear tests six years ago, the Saudi government gave an unannounced gift of $4 billion worth of oil spread over five years to tide Pakistan over during its difficulties caused by international sanctions."
Why did the United States not get angry at Saudi Arabia when it decided to undermine the U.S. efforts to stop Pakistan for building and exploding a nuclear bomb? And are we going to believe that Pakistan's head nuclear scientist exported nuclear technology to Iran and Libya and North Korea, much of it, according to the Washington Post article, very much in the open, without any awareness by the Pakistan government? As the Washington Post article notes, the investigation has raised more questions than it has answered. And, as many of you may remember, one of the people that Pakistani nuclear scientists are known to have met with several times before the war in Afghanistan was Bin Laden. Now that Dr. Khan appears to have been in charge of the illegal export of technology program, it would suggest that those who meet with Bin Laden may have been doing so not on their own but under directions from above. And what does this say about Bin Laden's claim to have nuclear technology in one of his last interviews before the U.S. took over Afghanistan?
The Washington Post article also suggests that Dr. Khan may not suffer any legal troubles for all that he has done because of his almost prophet like reputation among the masses in Pakistan.
"And yet it is unlikely that Khan will be convicted in a Pakistani court, because that would involve a head-on collision with the country's religious parties and with a public that has been led to believe that Khan's development of the bomb guaranteed Pakistan's security."

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