Putting an uppity Centrifugist in his place

He was involved in nuclear proliferation, apparently

You will be forgiven for yawning. David Albright is going to release a report—he’s already leaked it to the media, ensuring that the report makes a splash—that points out that A Q Khan might have sold advanced nuclear warhead designs, in addition to those old Chinese designs that go wrapped in Islamabad tailor’s shopping bags. Now it would have been exciting if Dr Albright actually had evidence of someone actually having bought the new design, because it is not news to most people that North Korean Nodongs and Iranian Shahab-IIIs can be modified to carry the advanced warhead. But Dr Albright does not have such evidence.

Dr Albright’s report is based on digital blueprints found on the Tinners’ computers in Switzerland in 2006. It is being suggested that it was the hard copies of these blueprints that the Swiss government destroyed recently, allegedly at the behest of the United States (specifically, the CIA). The Swiss government destroyed 30,000 pages of evidence—lest it fall into the wrong hands—but, as it turns out, after the horse had bolted: there are other copies of the blueprint. But of course.

Other than explaining the Swiss government’s action, why release such a report now, two years after the blueprints came to light? Well, it should put the squeeze back on Pakistan, which has not only rehabilitated Dr Khan, but whose ruling politicians are even toying with the idea of making him president. Dr Khan recanted his 2004 televised confession recently. He also availed the opportunity to insure himself by stating that he did everything with authorisation, thereby blowing the canard that his was a rogue operation. Dr Albright’s report should dampen the Pakistani government’s enthusiasm to lionise Dr Khan all over again.

There is also the Iranian angle. But it is difficult to see how these revelations will help in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme.

All said, Dr Albright’s report adds to the edifice of cynicism that surrounds how the United States has handled the business of Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation, right from the very start. If it looked the other way when Pakistan was buying and selling materials in the black market, it is now using that knowledge for coercive diplomacy.

Update: The Arms Control Wonk has a technical analysis; Albright’s paper is now out

6 thoughts on “Putting an uppity Centrifugist in his place”

  1. David Albright is an uber NPA (Non Proliferation Ayatollah). Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s actually related to that other Albright (Madeline).

    Its no secret Pak govt runs on GOTUS life support. The US could bankrupt and cause-collapse of Pak inside of 72 hrs merely by amending the state dept’s list of terror sponsoring states to include the biggest rogue state out there and thereafter let domestic law takes its course (all assets frozen, banking transactions void, commercial ties snapped, military ties evaporated, aid zeroed etc etc). Would be fun to watch, I wager.

    A few days back Nitin posted an intvw by Stephen Cohen. Yup, the same Cohen who a few yrs back brazenly claimed that the 1971 BD casualities at the hands of the Pak army were only a few 1000. And who recently gave senate testimony recommending big raises in GOTUS support for the pak state and military. Now the man goes around claiming to be an ‘expert on India’. Hah.

  2. Added to the post above:

    Point being, its important to see where some of these ’eminent’ analysts and experts are coming from. We owe ourselves that kinda due diligence.

  3. Take it easy Sud, I think he meant he is an expert on India for the US government not Indian. 🙂

  4. Sud, Stephen Cohen wrote books on both India and LoP in past few years. Although I haven’t read it, the book on India was supposed to be really bad. But then he’s an American analyst, so must be take seriously 🙂

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