Millennium Post

India questions Pak-N Korea nexus

Much along the expected lines, India had asked for an international probe into Pyongyang's nuclear proliferation links with other nations. Without naming Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that those responsible for it should be held accountable and affirmed that its proliferation linkages must be explored. Swaraj's remarks, however, become important as it had been made days after North Korea fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan. Incidentally, it was North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which was conducted on September 3, in direct defiance of United Nations' sanctions and the growing international pressure. At the trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly session, Swaraj raised the issue of countries with "linkages" to North Korea`s nuclear programme, in an indirect reference to Pakistan which had been allegedly involved in a nuclear-for-missile technology swap with North Korea. Pyongyang had stealthily received nuclear enrichment technology from Pakistan when Abdul Qadeer Khan was heading Islamabad's nuclear programme.

Pakistan had even refused to hand him over for interrogation to the US authorities in 2006 as he was suspected as the source of nuclear expertise for North Korea. It was after 2002, when the Bush administration had accused Pyongyang of having a clandestine program to produce highly enriched uranium and shopping them at suspect parts in the nuclear market. Incidentally, in 2004, Khan himself claimed that he had sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya, and Iran. It may be noted that economic links between Pakistan and North Korea were established during the early 1970s, during the then Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's 1976 visit to Pyongyang. During the early 1990s, Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto purchased Rodong long-range missiles from North Korea. In exchange, Pakistan supplied Pyongyang with "civilian nuclear technology" and encouraged North Korean students to study at Pakistani universities. Even though Pakistan became a vital ally in the US war on terror after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Islamabad's military cooperation with North Korea continued under Pervez Musharraf's watch. It must not be forgotten that, for over 40 years, Pakistan has remained one of North Korea's most consistent partner with their nuclear bonding.

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