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Kahuta to Korea
North Korea's nuclear tests have a lot to do with Pakistan, which everybody appears to be ignoring.
In August 2011, A Q Khan, Pakistan's nuclear guru, gave a set of documents to a nuclear expert, Simon Henderson, of a Washingtonbased think tank intended to prove that Khan was not a rogue player in Pakistan's nuclear "walmart". Instead it was accepted and practised widely by the Pakistan army, to the extent that a couple of former officials "earned" $3. 5 million for selling nuclear secrets. Henderson gave the documents to The Washington Post, which published them, albeit with the proviso that they were unverified and therefore not 100 per cent reliable.
But there was one part of the letter that was revealing. This was about the shooting of Kim Sae Nae, a North Korean diplomat in Pakistan, an event that was part of the ongoing drama of clandestine nuclear and missile proliferation activities between Pakistan and North Korea. The letter, purportedly from North Korean Workers Party Secretary Jon Byong Ho is dated July 15, 1998. It has lines like "Please give the agreed documents, components, etc. to a . . . [North Korean Embassy official in Pakistan] to be flown back when our plane returns after delivery of missile components. "
But about the killing of Kim Sae Nae, the letter says the North Koreans believe that Kim's husband, Kang Thae Yun, then economic counsellor in the North Korean embassy in Islamabad was the real target, and that she had been killed by the ISI. The event itself was exciting enough. A week after Pakistan's May 28, 1998 nuclear test, Kim Sae Nae, was shot dead outside the guest house of the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) in the highly fortified diplomatic area of Islamabad. The first explanation from the Pakistanis was that she was caught in the crossfire of a domestic dispute in a nearby house. Investigations proved she had been executed (bullet to the back of the head routine).
More important, her husband, Kang was not just any old diplomat. Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, in their book, Deception, give a detailed description of Kang's proliferation activities, which was tracked by western intelligence agencies, but not stopped. Not only was he a frequent visitor to KRL, he secretly represented Changgwang Sinyong Corporation (CSC), which had supplied Nodong missiles to Pakistan in 1994. In 1998, North Korean technical crews, their army chief of staff and head of theirstrategic forces made several trips to Sargodha airbase. Separately, it was discovered that the North Korean missile Taepodong 1, tested by North Korea was exactly the same as Pakistan's Hatf (actually, the other way around) which was based on the Chinese M-11 missile (China is the global mother of nuclear proliferation activities). Further proof of the Pakistan-North Korean nuclear-missile nexus was provided after Pakistan's nuclear tests in May 1998. The last test showed plutonium had been used - Pakistan had until then only used enriched-uranium for their nuclear weapons. North Korea possessed plutonium technology. That exchange was effected then, with Pakistan giving them enriched uranium technology in exchange.
But the stuff of spy thrillers came from the last incident after the death of Kim Sae Nae. Kang, predictably, disappeared after her death. Pakistan gave a huge Boeing 707 to take Kim's body back to Pyongyang. The aircraft belonged to Shaheen Air International, owned and run by a former Pakistan air force chief, Air Marshal Kaleem Saadat. Along with the body of the dead diplomat, travelled A Q Khan himself with lots of luggage, including huge crates which no one was allowed to touch. The assessment was P1 and P2 centrifuges were being transferred from Pakistan to North Korea. Levy and Scott-Clark include drawings, technical data and say drums of uranium hexaflouride were also part of the cargo travelling to Pyongyang.
North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, its next in 2009, and again last week. The first two tests were plutonium bombs, but some investigators are getting a whiff of uranium in the present test. North Korea revealed that it had built a uranium-enrichment facility at Yongbyon, several years later.
The Pakistan connection to North Korea's nuclear programme is one of those things which everyone knows and no one likes to talk about.
Then there is the China connection, which many wave away airily, saying "Oh, China doesn't do it any more. " There is one reality no one knows what to do about - China will not allow either North Korea or Pakistan to fail. North Korea's nuclear programme and the international muddying of waters will continue. Pakistan will continue to amass more nuclear weapons, miniaturise them onto mobile delivery systems and build jihadi groups alongside. Pakistan will continue to stall FMCT negotiations without a cost. China will continue with its delivery of two more nuclear reactors to Pakistan under a shroud of silence by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which will even consider letting them become a member.
Bad guys finish first.
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