Monday, November 19, 2007

Not actually so paranoid after all

I've often wondered about the U.S. role in Pakistan's nuclear program, given the rather special relationship we've maintained with Pervez Musharraf, and then wondered if that wasn't a touch paranoid on my part. Sadly, not at all paranoid.

A friend told me about the new book, Deception, by the investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, published last month. It's late for me and I'm feeling a little lazy, so I'll just quote from the publisher: "The shocking, three-decade story of A. Q. Khan and Pakistan’s nuclear program, and the complicity of the United States in the spread of nuclear weaponry."

From the synopsis:

On December 15, 1975, A. Q. Khan—a young Pakistani scientist working in Holland—stole top-secret blueprints for a revolutionary new process to arm a nuclear bomb. His original intention, and that of his government, was purely patriotic—to provide Pakistan a counter to India’s recently unveiled nuclear device. However, as Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark chillingly relate in their masterful investigation of Khan’s career over the past thirty years, over time that limited ambition mushroomed into the world’s largest clandestine network engaged in selling nuclear secrets—a mercenary and illicit program managed by the Pakistani military and made possible, in large part, by aid money from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, and by indiscriminate assistance from China.

Most unnerving, the authors reveal that the sales of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, so much in the news today, were made with the clear knowledge of the American government, for whom Pakistan has been a crucial buffer state and ally—first against the Soviet Union, now in the “war against terror.”

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