Benazir unlikely to exert civilian control over Paks nuke programme: Article

November 27th, 2007 - 12:08 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 27 (ANI): If former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto comes to power again, it is unlikely that she would be able to exert civilian control over the countrys nuclear programme, as the military believes she is too beholden to the Americans, according to an article.

The article by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins in Foreign Policy, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says, Even if Bhutto assumes power again, questions remain not only about her willingness to exert civilian control over Pakistans nuclear programme, but her ability to do so.

Frantz and Collins write that Pakistans generals and intelligence officials have never trusted Bhutto, adding that since Washington is largely responsible for engineering Bhuttos return to Pakistan, there is little reason to believe they will change their attitude on the PPP chief anytime soon.

And, she may well prove too much of a politician to risk angering the military and jeopardising her hold on power by challenging them over control of the countrys nuclear arsenal. Some might regard her return as a victory for democracy, but, given her record, that is a stretch. It would be especially dangerous if Bhuttos soothing promises were to lull US policymakers into a false sense of security just when vigilance may be needed most, they write.

The Daily Times quoted the article as saying that on a 1989 visit to Tehran, Bhutto was taken by surprise when told by President Hashemi Rafsanjani that there existed an agreement between the two countries on nuclear technology transfers. She has confirmed the story and consistently said that she was furious to find out from Rafsanjani that Pakistan was providing its nuclear technology to Iran.

Bhutto said she responded by ordering that no nuclear scientist be permitted to travel outside Pakistan without her approval. Although Bhutto publicly declared her opposition to nuclear weapons for Pakistan, she often took a different line in private discussions and talked about extending the nuclear legacy of her late father, premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who began the effort in 1972 to build an Islamic Bomb, it added.

The article claims that in December 1993 during her second term as Prime Minister, Dr AQ Khan requested an appointment with Bhutto, which the premier saw as an opportunity to recruit an ally, as at that time Dr Khan was recognised as the public face of Pakistans nuclear weapons programme.

It was Khan who is supposed to have suggested to Bhutto to include North Korea on her trip to China, which she did. He told her that the North Koreans were willing to sell Pakistan the designs for a version of the No-Dong missile, which could carry a nuclear payload, the article says.

Frantz and Collins further say that Bhutto pointed out that Pakistan already had missiles capable of reaching India. But Khan said that longer-range missiles with a bigger warhead capacity were what Pakistan needed.

On her return from North Korea, Bhutto handed over the designs for the missile to Khan. And, US intelligence agencies believe that this exchange was the beginning of Khans relationship with North Korea.
The article goes on to claim that in the case of Iran, Bhutto tried to stop the transfer of nuclear technology, though some former Pakistani officials have said that she actually approved of the arrangement behind the scenes. While in the case of North Korea, she set aside her reservations and helped Khan go ahead. (ANI)

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