Don't Panic! February 12 2004

Your war questions answered

What is Pakistan's role in the proliferation of nuclear weapons to enemies of the United States?

Last week, I mentioned that our deal to get Libya to surrender its nuclear weapons program to the United States, parts and all, had the important side effect of once again showing us and the world that our so-called ally Pakistan is a actually a huge threat to our safety and world peace.

Why's that? Well, because our analysts have determined that Libya's nuclear warhead designs actually came from Pakistan. The Libya/Pakistan connection has also supposedly clued the U.S. government in to something that readers of obscure newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and the one in your hands right now have known since at least 2002: Pakistan is practically running a correspondence course and parts catalog for wannabe nuclear powers.

I wrote in October 2002 that North Korea got its nuclear weapons designs from Pakistan in exchange for North Korean missile know-how. Pakistan exploded its first nuclear weapon in 1998 but had been working on acquiring nukes since the 1970s when India went nuclear. In addition to Libya and North Korea, Pakistan has also shared its nuclear technology with Iran, and even tried to work out a deal to share with Iraq. Saddam, bless his incompetent little black heart, turned them down.

In case the significance of that escapes you, allow me to spell it out: Pakistan has shared or tried to share its nuclear weapons program with all of our worst enemies. Even though Pakistan supposedly joined our team after 9-11, we have evidence that they've shared their atomic booty with our enemies as recently as October 2003.

Pakistan's response to accusations of wrongdoing has been to hire pop reggae star Shaggy as its public relations counsel.

President Musharraf: "Shaggy, the United States has caught us spreading nuclear weapons technology to their worst enemies."

Shaggy: "Just say, 'It wasn't me.' Now, let's practice with music (music starts). You gave your nukes to North Korea."

Musharraf: "It wasn't me."

Shaggy: "Your warhead plans went to Qaddafi."

Musharraf: "It wasn't me."

Shaggy: "Uranium went to Iran. You even made the Taliban."

Musharraf: "It wasn't me."

To hammer its innocence home, Pakistan went out and got a scapegoat. The scapegoat's name is Abdul Qadeer Khan. He's the so-called father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. The BBC describes him as, a "flamboyant metallurgist." Khan and some of his underlings were arrested a couple of weeks ago for selling Pakistan's nuclear knowledge. Khan then confessed on Pakistani TV that he was responsible for selling the info. He said, confusingly, that the proliferation to other countries was committed in "good faith." In Pakistan, "good faith" apparently means "for millions." Khan owns several homes and a hotel in Timbuktu, Mali, named for his wife, Hendrina. In his pseudo-apology, Khan insisted that Pakistan's government didn't authorize the transfer of nuclear-related materials. Immediately after his speech, as though by magic, Pakistan's government pardoned Khan for his crimes. I wonder how they say "whitewash" in Pakistan.

There's no way that Khan could have sold Pakistan's nukes without the knowledge of the higher-ups in Pakistan's military. Khan is a civilian, but his nuclear work is conducted on a Pakistani military site. In addition, there's evidence that the nuclear goodies were shared via Pakistani military aircraft.

A friend of Khan was quoted in several newspapers around the world explaining that Khan shipped evidence of high-level complicity in the nuclear transfers to his daughter in London. In the event that Pakistan tried to scapegoat Khan, his daughter was to release the evidence to the world press. And so, you've got your whitewash. Khan takes the blame without implicating top government officials. In exchange, the very same top government officials pardon him for his wrongdoing.

So far, there's no indication that we're going to reapply sanctions to Pakistan or in any way pressure them to give up or at least stop sharing their nuclear program. It appears that we'll continue acting as though they're cooperating with us, even though they supported the Taliban, shelter al-Qaeda and give the world's deadliest weapons to the world's nastiest countries.


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