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Posted: 11/24/2002 2:55:03 PM EDT
The New York Times November 24, 2002 In North Korea and Pakistan, Deep Roots of Nuclear Barter By DAVID E. SANGER EOUL, South Korea, Nov. 21 ? Last July, American intelligence agencies tracked a Pakistani cargo aircraft as it landed at a North Korean airfield and took on a secret payload: ballistic missile parts, the chief export of North Korea's military. The shipment was brazen enough, in full view of American spy satellites. But intelligence officials who described the incident say even the mode of transport seemed a subtle slap at Washington: the Pakistani plane was an American-built C-130. It was part of the military force that President Pervez Musharraf had told President Bush last year would be devoted to hunting down the terrorists of Al Qaeda, one reason the administration was hailing its new cooperation with a country that only a year before it had labeled a rogue state. But several times since that new alliance was cemented, American intelligence agencies watched silently as Pakistan's air fleet conducted a deadly barter with North Korea. In transactions intelligence agencies are still unraveling, the North provided General Musharraf with missile parts he needs to build a nuclear arsenal capable of reaching every strategic site in India. In a perfect marriage of interests, Pakistan provided the North with many of the designs for gas centrifuges and much of the machinery it needs to make highly enriched uranium for the country's latest nuclear weapons project, one intended to put at risk South Korea, Japan and 100,000 American troops in Northeast Asia. The Central Intelligence Agency told members of Congress this week that North Korea's uranium enrichment program, which it discovered only this summer, will produce enough material to produce weapons in two to three years. Previously it has estimated that North Korea probably extracted enough plutonium from a nuclear reactor to build one or two weapons, until that program was halted in 1994 in a confrontation with the United States. Yet the C.I.A. report ? at least the unclassified version ? made no mention of how one of the world's poorest and most isolated nations put together its new, complex uranium project. In interviews over the past three weeks, officials and experts in Washington, Pakistan and here in the capital of South Korea described a relationship between North Korea and Pakistan that now appears much deeper and more dangerous than the United States and its Asian allies first suspected. The accounts raise disturbing questions about the nature of the uneasy American alliance with General Musharraf's government. The officials and experts described how, even after Mr. Musharraf sided with the United States in ousting the Taliban and hunting down Qaeda leaders, Pakistan's secretive A. Q. Khan Nuclear Research Laboratories continued its murky relationship with the North Korean military. It was a partnership linking an insecure Islamic nation and a failing Communist one, each in need of the other's expertise. Pakistan was desperate to counter India's superior military force, but encountered years of American-imposed sanctions, so it turned to North Korea. For its part, North Korea, increasingly cut off from Russia and China, tried to replicate Pakistan's success in developing nuclear weapons based on uranium, one of the few commodities that North Korea has in plentiful supply. Yet while the United States has put tremendous diplomatic pressure on North Korea in the past two months to abandon the project, and has cut off oil supplies to the country, it has never publicly discussed the role of Pakistan or other nations in supplying that effort.
Link Posted: 12/12/2002 6:57:30 PM EDT
btt
Link Posted: 12/12/2002 7:40:13 PM EDT
This is disturbing stuff. With friends like Pakistan, who needs enemies?
Link Posted: 12/12/2002 10:58:42 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ckapsl: This is disturbing stuff. With friends like Pakistan, who needs enemies?
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The same could be said about the Clinton administration, which over many objections gave US taxdollars to one of the most repressive regimes on the planet in the hopes of buying them off, so they wouldn't build nuclear weapons. Thank God for that policy, huh? [rolleyes]
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