Missile for Fissile – What the NYT missed

The New York Times reports that one of the nuclear devices tested by Pakistan in 1998 could have belonged to North Korea.

North Korea has never tested a weapon on its own territory, leading many to wonder whether it can make working bombs. That is why the mystery of the last Pakistani test, on May 30, 1998, is tantalizing.

Of several tests Pakistan conducted then, the last one differed from those that preceded it in other ways besides the plutonium traces it produced. It was 60 miles away from the first test site. The shaft leading to the bomb was dug vertically rather than horizontally, experts said, a lower cost method. The detonation was also smaller. Pakistani officials said they had used a “miniaturized” device, but gave no other details. By all accounts, Dr. Khan was closely involved with that final test.

That’s hardly surprising given that the missile for fissile deal (pardon the dubious English) was quite well known to the rest of the world for some time. Strangely, the NYT seems to have missed the reports of North Korean officers witnessing the Pakistan nuclear tests which arose at that time. Here’s an Oct 2002 article by B Raman

In articles written since 1998, I have been saying, on the basis of information from reliable Pakistani sources, that North Korea’s assistance to Pakistan in the development of its missile capability has been as a quid pro quo for the latter’s assistance to North Korea in the development of its military nuclear capability.

After Pakistan’s nuclear weapon tests at Chagai, near the Afghan border in May,1998, my Pakistani sources claimed that one of the nuclear devices tested was of North Korean origin and that North Korean nuclear scientists were present during the testing. As this information was not corroborated by independent sources, I did not disseminate it. [Asia Times]