Pakistan, once infamous for nuclear proliferation via smuggling, has once again come under the scanner of the international regime after Turkey expressed its desire to make nuclear weapons. Fifteen years ago, Pakistan’s nuclear smuggler Abdul Qadeer Khan had admitted that he had sold and illegally exported nuclear technology to some countries. Now, the issue has rekindled as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently expressed his desire to make Turkey a nuclear power at a party meeting.
Erdogan recently told a close associate in his party, “Some countries have missiles with nuclear capability… (but the West insists) we can’t have that. I cannot accept this.” This statement by Erdogan leaked and stirred the United States. The New York Times questioned in an article on Monday, “If the United States could not prevent the Turkish leader from routing its Kurdish allies, how can it stop him from building a nuclear weapon or following Iran in gathering the technology to do so?”
Turkish links to Qadeer of Pakistan
The report further states, “Already Turkey has the makings of a bomb program: uranium deposits and research reactors — and mysterious ties to the nuclear world’s most famous black marketeer, Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. It is also building its first big power reactor to generate electricity with Russia’s help.”
The London think tank International Institute of Strategic Studies had studied the network of notorious nuclear smuggler Abdul Qadeer Khan under the name ‘Nuclear Black Market’. According to the study, Turkish companies have helped Abdul Qadeer Khan to import nuclear materials from Europe.
The notorious Pakistani nuclear scientist is accused of selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Now such discussions are gaining ground that Turkey is his fourth customer as per intelligence reports. Khan’s nuclear network extends to Malaysia.
The smuggler exonerated his country, though
The case of Pakistan selling nuclear technology had come to light in 2004-2005. At that time, the George Bush administration of America needed Pakistan for the NATO operations Afghanistan. During the period, Abdul Qadeer Khan had admitted on television he was a nuclear smuggler. However, Khan had claimed simultaneously that he had done the job of selling nuclear technology on his own, with no role or approval of the Pakistani government.
It was but clear that Khan had sold nuclear technology using government machinery and its facilities. The then military ruler of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, pretended to take action against Abdul Qadeer Khan in a damage-control exercise to airbrush the image of a country guilty of nuclear proliferation. Khan was put under house arrest for show. All this was done so that the international community does not impose strict restrictions on Pakistan.
Abdul Qadeer Khan had recently appeared in public again. At a function at Karachi University, he said Pakistan must promote Turkey and Malaysia among a few other Islamic countries.
Isolated in the international community for sponsoring, supporting terrorism, Pakistan has recently made efforts to form an Islamic alliance with Turkey and Malaysia. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mahathir Mohamad were indeed the heads of state that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan hobnobbed with the most during the UNGA meet. Apart from China, these are the only two countries which have openly stood with Pakistan in recent weeks.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s evergreen ally China had to warn Islamabad on the issue of terrorism under compulsion. China is currently heading the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that monitors terror funding and money laundering. Despite this, in the recent FATF meeting held in Paris, Pakistan was not only retained in the grey list but also given strict instructions to take concrete action against terrorism in the next four months.