Friday, May 4, 2007

Pakistan-Iran Nuclear Links

In 1989, then-Chief of Staff of Pakistani Army, Gen. Aslam Beg, negotiated a $6-billion deal with the Iranians for the purchase of nuclear weapon technology by Iran. Premier Benazir Bhutto, however, would later reject the agreement. In 1991, after Bhutto had departed, Beg’s replacement as Army Chief, Gen. Asif Nawaz, reaches an agreement with Iran’s President Hashemi Rafsanjani and the Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohsen Rezaie, which involved the Pakistani nuclear weapons technology in return for Iranian oil.

Pakistan’s The News today reported on the deal which was revealed in a study just published by International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think-tank, titled “Nuclear Black Market: the AQ Khan Network.”

According to the report, under pressure from the US Ambassador to Pakistan Robert Oakley, then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tells Hashemi Rafsanjani that the deal could not be implemented because it could not get the approval of the parliament and the president.

The News reports that even after Sharif’s intervention to stop the deal, the Pakistani chief nuclear scientist AQ Khan continues his close relations with the Iranians, which had begun in 1987 and by 1993 he delivers the centrifuge design and other nuclear technology to Iran. The study alleges that all along AQ Khan was being protected by persons at the highest levels of the Pakistani government for his Iranian deals, although no evidence has emerged that a clear directive was given to him to provide nuclear technology to Iran.

In the end, the Iranians would buy the technology from AQ Khan at a much lower price than the original $6 Billion price tag.

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