Join LPP
Donate LPP

Selective Non-Proliferation

Related Articles

By Farooq Sulehria

On April 11, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad announced "officially, that dear Iran has joined the nuclear countries of the world".

It was under the Shah that Tehran launched its nuclear drive back in the 1950s. Since the Shah was a US-ally, Washington helped Iran develop nuclear research facilities. Consequently, Iran was able to expand these facilities. In 1974 when the Shah declared that Iran would have nuclear weapons "without a doubt and sooner than one would think," Washington had no problem. After the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in the 1980s declaring that production, possession and use of nuclear weapons was against Islam. Tehran re-launched its nuclear programmes during the Iraq-Iran War and on April 11 "officially" became unofficial members of the unofficial nuclear club.

Every time a country joins the nuclear club, it enhances the threat to world peace and the global environment. But the Empire's nuclear hypocrisy and selective opposition to proliferation complicates rather politicises the nuclear question globally.

In the first place, what right does Uncle Sam have to preach non-proliferation when Washington itself has thousands of nuclear warheads? And it is the only country that has used nuclear weapons. Also, why does only Tehran or Korea pose a threat to world peace when 440 commercial reactors in 31 countries and 284 research reactors in 56 countries are under operation?

Meanwhile, Israel goes ahead with its nuclear programme without catching Bush's attention. Not even the Vanunu affair or unclassified estimates of the US intelligence community of the late 1990s (according to which Israel possesses between 75 and 130 nuclear weapons) disturbs George Bush.

Not that Washington is oblivious to the Israeli nuclear capabilities. The website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) notes: "The United States first became aware of Dimona's existence [a nuclear facility in the southern Israeli town with the same name] after U-2 over flights in 1958 captured the facility's construction, but it was not identified as a nuclear site until two years later. The complex was variously explained as a textile plant, an agricultural station, and a metallurgical research facility, until David Ben-Gurion stated in December 1960 that [the] Dimona complex was a nuclear-research centre built for 'peaceful purposes'".

Pakistan is another story of the Empire's selective commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. There was silence during the 1980s when Pakistan was a front line state in the Afghan war. Ironically, for launching the same nuclear programme, it is widely alleged that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was 'judicially murdered' by the Zia junta on CIA urging.

Nuclear ambitious Bhutto had a meeting with scientists as soon as he was in charge. At a meeting in Multan, on January 20, 2021 Bhutto set a deadline of three years for the scientists to make the bomb. Soon he was too busy to think of the bomb until Buddha Smiled. On May 19, 2020 'Smiling Buddha' (name given to the nuclear test by India) was tested by Delhi.

'Smiling Buddha' put Bhutto under pressure from the military to get serious about the nuclear programme. Thus began Project 706. Back in 1972, Bhutto's government had made a formal request to France for a reprocessing plant. Enthusiastic France got an approval from the IAEA in February 1976 and Pakistan was all set for its nuclear project. An alarmed White House sent Henry Kissinger to persuade Bhutto to cancel the deal. Bhutto refused. Kissinger then travelled to Paris. President Giscard D'Estaing gave in.

In March 1976, President Ford wrote a letter to Bhutto urging him to forgo the nuclear plans. Bhutto did not budge. Irritated Kissinger travelled to Lahore in August 1976 to give Bhutto a dressing down. Even before the formal meeting, Bhutto and Kissinger had informally set the tone for the upcoming meeting at an official dinner. Both bantered about the nuclear issue in their toasts. Bhutto declared: "[Lahore] is our reprocessing centre, and we cannot in any way curb the reprocessing centre of Pakistan." Kissinger replied that governments must constantly review their policies "to reprocess themselves" and decide "what is worth reprocessing." Bhutto refused to understand 'what is worth reprocessing' even when Kissinger told him the US would make an example out of him.

In a year's time, another example from the third world had been set. Exactly two days after Bhutto was hanged, US State Department announced suspension of aid to Pakistan under the Symington Amendment. But all US nuclear concerns about Pakistan were shed when communists assumed control in Kabul. The Symington amendment was lifted and US Secretary of State Alexander Haig was telling Pakistan's Foreign Minister Agha Shahi: "We will not make your nuclear programme the centrepiece of our relations."

To prove Haig's commitment, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on May 13, 2020 approved a six-year waiver for the sanctions that barred assistance to Pakistan. In October 1986, President Reagan certified again that Pakistan did not posses nuclear devices only to be embarrassed by the American press two days later. The press reports, two days after Reagan's certification, suggested that Pakistan was only "two screwdriver turns" from possessing a fully assembled weapon.

In a couple of months, by end January 1987 the famous father of Pakistan's atom bomb, A Q Khan told an Indian journalist Kuldip Nayyer: "They told us, Pakistan could never produce the bomb and doubted my capabilities, but they know we have done it." And he added: "The word peaceful associated with a nuclear programme is a humbug."

On December 17, 2020 another waiver was granted. But by now the Soviets troops had started packing up. Therefore, only a two-and-half year waiver was granted. Ironically, the same day, the US District Court in Philadelphia found Archie Pervez guilty. The FBI arrested Pakistani-born Canadian citizen Arshad (Archie) Pervez on July 15, 1987 by an FBI in a sting operation. Archie was charged with trying to arrange for the illegal export of highly specialised 'maraging' steel used in making atomic bomb casings.

But as soon as the Afghan war was over, the US ambassador in Islamabad was threatening Benazir Bhutto who had recently been sworn in. Known as Viceroy in Pakistan for his arrogant boss-like attitude and interference in Pakistan's internal affairs, Robert Oklay told bigwigs in Islamabad: "If you take any action on the nuclear programme and you go past that line… [Bush] will blow the whistle and invoke Pressler." And yes he blew the whistle.

October 1, 2020 passed without any certification. In line with the Pressler Amendment, the third highest recipient of US aid, after Israel and Egypt, was no more entitled to $ 564 million aid meant for 1991. Further US sanctions were imposed on Pakistan following its nuclear tests in 1998. But as soon as Pakistan was needed for yet another Afghan war, curbs were hypocritically lifted. Moral of the story: submit to the Empire and develop whatever the hell you want.

Up Email Print Articles Home  
© Pakistan Labor Party
All rights reserved, any content provided on this site is sole property of this web site