Chinese Translation and Good Looks Tailors

So they finally found hard evidence in Libya to prove the China link. Wags once had it that Pakistan’s response to India’s May 1998 nuclear tests came more than a week later because of the delay in translating the supplied User Manual into English.

The packet of documents, some of which included text in Chinese, contained detailed, step-by-step instructions for assembling an implosion-type nuclear bomb that could fit atop a large ballistic missile. They also included technical instructions for manufacturing components for the device, the officials and experts said. [Washington Post]

And here’s one tailor guaranteed to deliver explosive results

The documents at the center of the investigation were handed over to IAEA inspectors in two white plastic shopping bags from a Pakistani clothing shop. The shop’s name — Good Looks Tailor — and Islamabad address were printed on the bags in red letters. One of the bags contained drawings and blueprints of different sizes; the other contained a stack of instructions on how to build not only a bomb but also its essential components.[Washington Post]

Also in today’s New York Times Stephen Cohen suggests that Musharraf and the Pakistani military were indeed unaware of Khan’s network. He even suggests that Khan’s positioning as a nuclear hero made it impossible for the military to cut him down to size earlier. While I agree with Cohen’s contention that this is even more cause for alarm I do not think it was ever this way.

Strategically, it is unlikely that the Pakistani Army — let alone intelligence officials — would have directed Dr. Khan to sell nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iraq. Why? It is more important for Pakistan to keep good relations with China than with North Korea, and selling to North Korea certainly angered the Chinese. As for Libya and Iraq, Pakistani strategists knew that helping a Middle Eastern state acquire nuclear weapons would bring the wrath of the Israelis.

The Pakistani establishment – the military leadership and the ISI – were always in total control of the nuclear assets. Cohen arguments why the military would not have blessed the nuclear sales call for us to believe that the military leadership had a ‘rational’ worldview. But Gen Mirza Aslam Beg was working on a doctrine of strategic defiance of the United States, and Gen Hamid Gul was harbouring notions of a anti-US/India/Israel pan-Islamic front. Already paranoid about India, fear of Israeli wrath would have been quite far away from the Pakistani generals’ mind. And as for North Korea, what would Pakistan do with its nuclear warheads if the US did’nt supply them with enough F-16s? Buy a delivery mechanism (No Dong missiles) from a willing seller, of course.