A Whole Load of Trash
By Dr Shireen M Mazari

It is becoming rather sickening to find that anyone wanting to make a quick buck or gain cheap publicity can do so simply by creating "revelations" relating to Muslim states like Iran and Pakistan. For us, the nuclear program is the favorite whipping boy of the Western media and analysts since the Western world now clearly seems to be suffering from the trauma of having to deal with Pakistan possessing nuclear capability -- and that too a Muslim state which appears to outsiders to be constantly going through internal crises and which is still within the fold of the developing rather than the developed world.
It is interesting to note that whenever Pakistan faces domestic upheavals, along comes another attack on the nuclear front from some Western source or the other. Honestly, there is a ridiculous absurdity to these shenanigans from opportunistic Western sources. The latest trash -- for that is what it comes down to finally -- in this context has come in the form of a book entitled "Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons: Pakistan's Nuclear Program" which will come on the market next week.
Of course, if ever there was a deception in terms of nuclear trading it was the US assistance to Israel -- which still continues. The only nuclear trade that has been more secret has been India's acquisitions of, for example, krytrons, flash x-rays, maraging steel and so on, especially in the early sixties and seventies when India did not have the capability to produce all the nuts and bolts for its 1974 nuclear tests…
As for the authors of this latest piece of trashy propaganda -- Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark -- their previous foray into writing books had nothing to do with nuclear or remotely related issues since the two books to their credit are entitled, The Amber Room: The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasures, and The Stone of Heaven: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade. But that hardly matters since they are inventing a story that will be bought by so-called Western security experts, a naive Western press and a Western audience that laps up any attack on Pakistan's nuclear program and on Dr A Q Khan -- who certainly traumatized them by his audacious extrication of enrichment knowledge from within their midst. The truth is that the "facts" presented in the book, as seen in the extractions published in the British press, do not add up, the chronology's off track and the dots do not connect.
Extracts from the book, published in Britain's Sunday Times -- for whom the authors worked before they joined The Guardian -- show the authors asserting that Pakistan's nuclear program is a threat to the security of the whole world because it can fall into the hands of "Islamic terrorists at any time." Such a tall claim, and with no hint of proof or even a logical argument to back it up. Just for the record, it would be more rational to fear the US nuclear capability since presently nuclear command authority in the US rests with President Bush who in his second inaugural address declared that he received his guidance from "beyond the heavens." Was it this guidance that led him to invade Iraq on false pretexts of WMD? What if this source of guidance becomes his raison d'etre for attacking other Muslim states? In contrast, Pakistan's nuclear command, control and communications are firmly in the hands of professionals.
There are also major contradictions including on the one hand claiming that President Musharraf had already been reducing Dr Khan's role in the nuclear program and on the other declaring that it was all done under pressure from Bush -- and then going on to state that in fact the proliferation has still not stopped. Yet no proof or even linkage has been cited to support the last claim, except for a reference to a 2006 report by German Intelligence Service -- the BND -- that had declared that proliferation had not stopped. Now one only has to recall the BND being fooled by Iraq's so-called WMD in 2002-2003 to question the credibility of this "early warning" assessment which sounds more like a recycling of propaganda trash put out by the CIA and Mossad to a gullible consumer of such manufactured intelligence. Incidentally, of what crime is Dr Khan guilty apart from perhaps alleged corruption in terms of making personal financial gains? Anyhow, with indemnity perhaps becoming a formal part of our political landscape, will corruption be seen as a crime now?
One of the biggest canards of our time is the claim that Pakistan's arsenal is "unsecured" and vulnerable to terrorists. They cite the views expressed by 100 so-called US foreign policy experts in a poll conducted by the Center for American Progress and the Carnegie Endowment that Pakistan posed the greatest nuclear threat to the world. Well, would they have been honest enough to admit that their own country posed the greatest nuclear and conventional threat to the globe? But this tirade against Pakistan is a desperate move by Americans to deflect attention away from the US destruction of the non-proliferation regime as a result of its nuclear deal with India. This deal violates US obligations under the NPT and NPT Agreements of 1995 and 2000. Attacking Pakistan also deflects attention away from US failures in Iraq and elsewhere, but especially in Afghanistan.
Even at the level of micro details of the now concluded Libya-A Q Khan links, the authors are unclear or wrong about the facts on the ground. For instance it was Libya that revealed all on its nuclear ambitions to the US in return for a political, economic and strategic deal so there is little for the CIA to claim as its success. But worse is the authors' lack of basic nuclear knowledge. For instance, they refer to the churning out of "cheap centrifuge components" whereas in reality centrifuges are high precision machines and cheap ones will not work. Even India has not yet perfected uranium enrichment and had to go the plutonium route for its tests of 1974 and 1998, nor has Japan.
Perhaps the most ludicrous assertion by the authors is their claim to finding a range of materials and components still being procured by Pakistan that "clearly exceed" what Pakistan needs for its domestic nuclear program. Now that is presumptuous of the authors to assume that they know what is adequate for Pakistan. Trash at its peak! But then here is a new growth industry in the West that hypes the WMD threat, now diversified into an "Islamic nuclear threat". The reality of Pakistan's cooperation with the international community, including assisting the IAEA on Iran and Libya, and Pakistan's publicly revealed and clear cut command and control mechanisms as well as its export control laws do not sit well with this hype industry and propagandist trash.
We are also to blame. We tolerate this abuse and continue to give explanations in a defensive mode. This must stop. Although presently we are totally immersed in critical domestic issues, let us not allow these to be used by external forces to undermine our capabilities and national assets, including nuclear assets. Perhaps if we looked inwards to our own people rather than to external players to decide our political fate, we would keep the latter's access and influence limited and more circumspect.
(The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. Courtesy The News)

 


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