A new lesson in U.S.
By Jacobo Quintanilla
Services from the Agency for Information in Solidarity (AIS)
administration is imposing economic sanctions on 13 foreign companies and
individuals from seven countries who allegedly sold nuclear equipment and
technology to Iran. This measure was revealed in a 30-page report the U.S.
administration sent to the House and Senate describing that illegal market and
naming the punished entities.
enterprises include five Chinese companies and others from Russia, Macedonia,
Byelorussia, Taiwan, North Korea and the United Arab Emirates. At least five of
them have been previously sanctioned by the U.S. government.
clear that Iran dips into the same networks that supplied Libya with nuclear
technology, components and materials, including the black-market network of
Abdul Qadeer Khan (the ‘father’ of Pakistan's nuclear program),” stated John R.
Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security,
before the Committee on International Relations in Washington on March 30. “To
destroy these networks through sanctions and other measures is a priority
objective of the United States,” Bolton
said during his appearance.
or not, the United States has again displayed its sense of Realpolitik
in the intricate Pakistani affair. “If we had any information about
any complicity by the upper levels of government in Pakistan, we would act upon
it,” Bolton replied when questioned by the Democrats.
events, Abdul Qadeer Khan – 69, an Indian scientist who became the “father” of
the Pakistani atom bomb thanks to information he stole while working for a
uranium-enrichment company in the
– in early February admitted his responsibility in the illegal transfer of
nuclear technology to
Libya and North Korea. On television, the scientist publicly asked the Pakistani
people for forgiveness, saying that he acted “without any authorization from the
government for those activities.” Automatically, Pakistani President Pervez
Musharraf immediately granted a pardon to this “national hero.”
to Mohamed el-Baradel, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), the revelations about the distribution of nuclear technology secrets
through Pakistan are only the tip of the iceberg and confirm the existence of a
huge “international supermarket of nuclear technology.” The
has not questioned for a moment the Pakistani government's version, in which
Pakistan alleges to be totally ignorant of the “illegal transactions” its most
important nuclear expert carried out for more than a decade.
believe that the activities Mr. Khan recently confessed to were activities that
he carried out without approval from the highest levels of the government of
Pakistan,” Bolton argued before the committee. “That's the position President
Musharraf has taken and we have no evidence to think otherwise.”
international experts and Pakistani analysts from the outset said they
distrusted Khan's statements, since it was very difficult for the scientist to
distribute nuclear technology without some high-ranking military officers and
government officials being aware of his actions.
appears there will be no evidence of that alleged connection because the
Islamabad government hastened to cover up an affair that might have revealed
some circumstances that are “very uncomfortable” for Pakistani authorities, such
as allegations that Musharraf himself, as head of the Army before the 1999 coup
that took him to power, knew about Khan's “advice activities” to other countries.
The circumstances are still more uncomfortable for the United States, which is
being compelled to impose a harsh international sanction it cannot and does not
wish to impose, and is ignoring Pakistan's activities in nuclear proliferation
because Pakistan is a U.S. ally in the struggle against terrorism in the region.
Pakistan, a strategic ally
authorities in late November launched an investigation into Khan Research
Laboratories (KRL), a company founded by Khan that was engaged in uranium
enrichment, after the IAEA revealed that “a couple of Pakistani scientists had
supplied nuclear information and technology to Teheran.” Last year, Washington
imposed economic sanctions to these laboratories for allegedly contributing to
the efforts of a country to obtain weapons of mass destruction. That country was
North Korea, sanctioned by the United States ever since it expelled IAEA
inspectors from its nuclear installations and announced the existence of a
nuclear program similar to the one the Bush administration looked for vainly in
the case of Pakistan, despite the crassness of the facts and the more-than-probable
connivance of the authorities, the United States will not at this time fine the
KRL or the Pakistani government, in an effort not to pressure Musharraf, who
finds himself in a very delicate situation.
between its hopes and realities, Pakistan has been since Sept. 11 a strategic
ally of the United States in its struggle against terrorism in Asia and the Bin
Laden network and one of the three main recipients of U.S. military aid.
in nonproliferation who have seen the aforementioned report have said that U.S.
government officials had complained repeatedly to China and Russia for involving
their societies in such nuclear transferals. But the nature of these two
countries, as well as Pakistan's condition as a U.S. ally, suggest that no
measures will be taken against any of them.
the world rallied behind the United States and looked toward Baghdad, great
waves of nuclear proliferation spread from Karachi. And on this occasion, as in
so many others, there will be no sanctions. We are learning a new lesson in U.S.
Journalist Jacobo Quintanilla contributes regularly to the Agency for
Information in Solidarity (AIS).