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    C J Karira
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    On ‘the global nuclear weapons conspiracy’

    On ‘the global nuclear weapons conspiracy’ D.Murali

    Chennai: The India-US nuclear deal is still being talked about among political parties, with clarity continuing to be elusive.

    Mentioning about the ‘civilian nuclear technology’ agreement, Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark write in ‘Deception’ ( that it was ‘an unmitigated disaster’ for the president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.

    “Having spent the previous 30 years being persecuted for buying equipment for its nuclear programme, Islamabad had to watch as tactical, commercial and potentially military advantage was handed over to the hated enemy over the border. It also appeared to Musharraf (and to his enemies) that Bush was shopping around for a new ally in South Asia.”

    The book, which is about ‘Pakistan, the US and the global nuclear weapons conspiracy’, is based on ‘a trove of official documents – restricted government memorandums, embassy cables, company telexes and classified reports, written by ambassadors, cabinet members, policy makers and civil servants – many of them released under the US Freedom of Information Act’. Wish we could mine such troves using the RTI (Right to Information) Act, closer home.

    “This is a story of how our elected representatives have conjured a grand deception,” begins the intro. “It is a chronicle of moral lapses, abysmal judgments, failures of oversight, careless and frequently lazy analyses of the changing world around us…”

    The deception was ‘first glimpsed’ in 2004 when Pakistan’s nuke scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan made a confession live on the national TV about ‘unauthorised proliferation activities’. The authors observe that Khan’s confession was a mere ruse. “Khan was the fall guy and his performance papered over the true nature of what many now believe was the nuclear crime of all our lifetimes and undoubtedly the source of our future wars.”

    ‘Deception’ tells the tale of how ‘for three decades, consecutive US administrations, Republican and Democrat, as well as the governments in Britain and other European countries, had allowed Pakistan to acquire highly restricted nuclear technology’. If you wonder ‘why anyone would want to place the survival of a military regime in Pakistan above the long-term safety of the world,’ the answer lies in the Cold War era, when ‘Washington was willing to turn a blind eye to General Zia ul-Haq’s nuclear aspirations.”

    It all began with ‘an ambitious young man who could not get a job,’ recount the authors, opening with a chapter titled ‘the angry young man’. It begins with A.Q. Khan’s letter from Amsterdam to Pakistan’s prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in July 1974, two months after India’s nuke test in Rajasthan.

    “Pakistan felt as if it had been duped, as well as eclipsed, outwitted and shamed, by an action that seemed to prime minister Bhutto to confirm India’s claim to regional supremacy.” He sought a diplomatic solution – ‘to lobby for a nuclear umbrella – reassurances from the US that it would act as Pakistan’s security guarantor against attack’. Ominously, you would read about General Mirza Aslam Beg’s description, years later, of a different ‘umbrella’ with a capability to unfurl using F-16s and recalibrated Mirages.

    In the final chapter ‘awakening’, you’d read about the January 2006 ‘intelligence assessment’ produced by ‘Germany’s BND security service with the pooled knowledge of British, French and Belgian spies’. It consisted of lists of ‘front companies, diplomatic missions, academic organisations, government offices and charitable institutes that were accused of being engaged in illegal nuclear weapons research and procurements on behalf of nation states’.

    The authors describe the situation graphically thus: “It was a circuit board of proliferation, the soldered links and connections of a vast network that spanned the world, from Pyongyang to Beijing, from Sophia to Tehran, servicing countries ranging from Syria, Egypt and Sudan to Iran and North Korea…”

    A must-read, even as the nuke deal with the US seems deceptively conclusive.

    Book Peek

    The Hindu News Update Service

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    Last edited by karira; 19-11-07 at 03:59 PM.


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