Pakistan bartered N-technology to N Korea for missiles

The Times of India

PTI [ SUNDAY, MARCH 02, 2003 01:20:54 PM ]

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is believed to have bartered away nuclear technology to North Korea as a "means of payment" for procuring Taepodong ballistic missiles, according to American experts and intelligence officials. "(US) Intelligence officials now believe that Pakistan decided to transfer nuclear technology as a means of payment. This barter proved a perfect match," expert John E Carbaugh Jr, a policy analyst, who advises the US administration and major US multinational firms, said in a recent paper.

In 1994, Pyongyang signed the Agreed Framework which led them to shut down their plutonium-based nuclear programme. "But North Korean scientists found Pakistan's uranium enrichment technology to be a good means of continuing a covert nuclear programme, albeit one that requires time".

Carbaugh said there were indications that Islamabad had originally agreed to pay for the ballistic missiles in cash. "But missiles are expensive; by the time they were delivered by North Korea in the spring of 1996, Pakistan's economic situation had deteriorated badly. It was dependent on bailouts by the International Monetary Fund".

This led Islamabad to offer nuclear technology as a barter for the missles, he said.

Regarding Pakistan's missile programme, Gaurav Kampani, a senior research associate at Monterey Institute's Center of Non-proliferation Studies said the history of missile development in any country showed that the process took one or two decades, but Pakistan tested its missiles "all of a sudden".

Kampani said "Pakistan is probably one of the only cases where it has no history of testing or development and all of a sudden it displays a fully-developed ballistic missile.

"Then it tests it over an urban centre. That degree of confidence suggests that a tested, reliable weapon system has been procured. Second, there is no doubt that the missile is the Nodong in external appearance, range and warhead payload.

"Third, North Korean crews were present during the launch in Pakistan and there was a lot of air freight traffic between North Korea and Pakistan before the launch. Fourth, the US State Department sanctioned the Khan Research Labs and the North Korean entity from which the missiles were supplied," Kampani said.

Carbaugh said Nodong was "not the only one model procured" from North Korea and quoted US officials as saying that Pakistan's 2,000 km-range Ghaznavi missile "may actually be a Taepodong-I".

While Islamabad's Ambassador to UN Ashraf Jehangir Qazi has denied these allegations, Washington has warned Pakistan not to continue such exchanges.

Pakistan seems to have understood that continuing these exchanges would bring in to direct confrontation with the US and compromise crucial international aid, he said.

"But given Pakistan's instability, the situation will have to be watched closely", Carbaugh added.