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'Link F-16s with access to AQ Khan'

Source: PTI
February 18, 2005 14:07 IST
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The US should condition high value assistance to Pakistan, such as F-16s, on access to disgraced scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, an American research firm which advises the Congress has said.

The Congressional Research Service stipulated three conditions in a 37-page report - full cooperation on Khan's network, absolute commitment on no future transfers of nuclear or missile technology and no new nuclear tests and restraint on nuclear and missile competition with India.

Effectively shutting down the black market trade in nuclear technology materials and components may be possible with adequate cooperation from host governments, but this objective would be easier to accomplish if Pakistan would provide access to A.Q. Khan or otherwise provide more information on the extent of his network, the report said.

Pakistan's nuclear bazaar

Washington should condition high value assistance to Islamabad, such as F-16s, on access to Khan, said the report compiled by Richard P. Cronin, Coordinator and Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Division.

Among other things the report said A.Q. Khan and several other scientists from the Khan Research Laboratories sold nuclear technology from the 1980s through 2002 to several countries including Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Khan reportedly sold a full range of technology—from blueprints and components to full centrifuge assemblies, uranium hexafluoride feedback and, reportedly a nuclear weapon design.

Assistance to Iran began in the late 1980s and continued until the mid-1990s. Assistance to Libya began in the early 1990s and continued at least until the mid-1990s. Assistance to North Korea reportedly began in the mid-1990s and may have continued until 2003.

Whether the Musharraf government can be trusted to go forward with the United States as a security partner, let alone a major Non-NATO Ally, depends in part on the degree of culpability of the Pakistan government and military in Khan's activities, CRS said in its report.

Khan could not have functioned without some level of cooperation by Pakistani military personnel, who maintained tight security around the key nuclear facilities, and possibly civilian officials as well.

Whether President Musharraf's delicate treatment of Khan following the revelations of his activities reflects some level of official culpability is arguable. Likewise, it appears that the Pakistani government was, at a very minimum, incredibly lax in responding to rumours of his activities, it said.

Whatever the current policy of the Musharraf government--Islamabad insists it is not involved in proliferation activities--Pakistan continues to be an established source of vertical (new levels of capability) proliferation and a potential source of onward horizontal proliferation (transfers to other states), it observed.

Moreover, if not carefully handled, US policies aimed at strengthening Pakistan militarily could unintentionally lead to the breakdown of the current unstable nuclear deterrence situation between Pakistan and India, with catastrophic consequences, it said.

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