Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pakistan's and India's nukes and US nuclear proliferation policy

There are recent reports in Indian media, (here and here), that the US winked at Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons. However, despite a lack of reporting by US mainstream media, this seems to be old news. There is a Wikipedia article about it and also some details at Online Journal where it is reported that:
Richard Barlow, an intelligence analyst and a former senior member of the Counter-Proliferation unit at the CIA lost his job when he objected internally to the George H.W. Bush administration’s misleading Congress over Pakistan’s nuclear program. Following Congress-ordered investigations, the inspector-general at the State Department and the CIA concluded that Barlow had been fired as a reprisal. Further, a final investigation by Congress’ own Government Accountability Office completed in 1997 largely vindicated Barlow. The Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees concluded that Barlow was due Congressional relief in light of unjustified DOD actions against him and cover-ups with Congress.
To me this is of a piece with the recent nuclear deal with India effectively forgiving that country for its own covert nuclear program and its refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, (NPT). What it shows is that the US has never been very serious about nuclear non-proliferation, (much less nuclear disarmament), subordinating it to other geostrategic goals of the moment. In the case of Pakistan, the motive seems to have initially been avoiding pressure to cut of military aid to that country while it was piping US aid to anti-Soviet mujaheddin in Afghanistan. Now it is to any avoid aid cut-off while Pakistan fights with Jihadists including some of the very mujaheddin previously aided. In the case of India it was to set that county up as a "balance" to growing Chinese influence in the region, (there may also have been a quid pro quo for India's acquiesence over sanctions on Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program which quite likely doesn't exist).

To me, this seems a poor choice of priorities -- but it will not be seen that way by powers that be until a nuclear war breaks out on the sub-continent. Then everyone will want to know how it was allowed to happen.

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