Mar 24, 2004 8:19 pm


Ram Narayanan sent me an article from THE TIMES OF INDIAentitled"Nuclear Bombshell: The Truth that John Kerry Knows" by K SUBRAHMANYAM published on SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004:

The myth that A Q Khan’s proliferation activities were conducted without the knowledge of the Pakistani army chiefs and prime ministers and further that the US administration was fully satisfied with this explanation stands demolished. Consider the following.

One, in an interview to the Far Eastern Economic Review US deputy secretary Wolfowitz indicates there was a deal between the US and Pakistan for the cover-up.

Two, according to Khan’s friends, General Zia-ul Haq directed him to respond to the 1987 Iranian overtures for nuclear technology but told him not to go too far.

Three, two former assistant secretaries of state of the Bush (Sr) administration, Harry Rowan and Henri Sokoslki, have disclosed that General Aslam Beg told them in 1990 that if the US were to cut off aid to Pakistan it might be forced to share nuclear technology with Iran at a price.

Four, between 1984-86, the US sold arms to Iran illegally to secure the release of hostages held by Hizbullah in Lebanon. A part of the proceeds of the arms sales was diverted as aid to contra rebels in Nicaragua in defiance of a Congressional ban.

When a CIA plane carrying the arms supply was shot down and the American pilot taken prisoner, the matter became public. The national security advisor, Admiral Poindexter, and Colonel Oliver North were put on trial and were initially convicted and subsequently acquitted on a technicality.

Whether the Iran-contra deal encouraged the Iranians to make overtures to Pakistan on nuclear technology and General Zia was emboldened to direct A Q Khan to respond positively would need to be further investigated.

However, it is an open secret that the US was permissive of the Pak nuclear weapons programme: The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) owned by the Pakistani, Agha Hasan Abedi, was chosen by the CIA to put through the Iran-contra arms deal.

The bank’s collapse in 1991 kicked up a lot of political dust: So much so, the bank’s illegal penetration of the US banking system, through a benami take-over of the First American Bank, became the subject matter of Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee enquiry chaired, most interestingly, by senator John Kerry — the present Democratic contender for the US presidency.

The enquiry report found that BCCI was involved in the sale of nuclear technologies and had indulged in various criminal activities — such as drugs trade, illegal arms deals, prostitution and money laundering.

The report also said that BCCI had cultivated many prominent US personalities — among them, former defence secretary Clark Clifford, directors of CIA, Richard Helms and William Casey, former president Jimmy Carter.

The report commented adversely on the inadequate cooperation of the CIA in the conduct of the enquiry. It recommended further action to make the CIA more accountable. The trial of Clark Clifford, who lent his prestige and name for the illegal activities of BCCI in the US, was dropped in view of his age and poor health.

Later, the BCCI affair was given a quiet burial presumably because the CIA and many prominent personalities were involved. There were even allegations of connections between BCCI and the Bush family.

Given the close interaction of the CIA and the BCCI which handled the banking transactions relating to the Pakistani nuclear programme and the Iran-contra illegal arms deals, could the CIA have been totally ignorant at that stage about Pakistan-Iran nuclear proliferation?

Since Agha Hasan Abedi was close to the Pakistani ISI and leadership, information on the involvement of so many leading US personalities in the BCCI deals would have given the Pakistani leadership an extremely powerful leverage on the US establishment.

It is quite possible that cassettes containing A Q Khan’s account of his proliferation going back to 1987, and sent out through his daughter to the UK, may contain not only details of the involvement of Pakistani generals and leaders in the proliferation activities but also information regarding the involvement of the CIA and other leading American personalities with BCCI and its criminal activities and the US permissiveness on Pakistan-Iran nuclear transactions. No doubt this is only a speculation, but it is a highly plausible one.

The Kerry committee specifically referred to BCCI’s involvement in the sale of nuclear technologies. The committee also said that “It was not merely BCCI’s deception that permitted it to infiltrate the United States and its banking system. Also essential were BCCI’s use of political influence-peddling and the revolving door in Washington”.

President Bush has attacked senator Kerry’s record in funding intelligence and referred to his move to reduce CIA’s funding in 1995. This was in response to Kerry’s charge that Bush had impeded investigations into intelligence failures.

Yet, can there be a greater intelligence failure than the US administration’s alleged inability to monitor the long and extensive proliferation activity under A Q Khan?

There is a remarkable similarity between the pardons given to the guilty in the Iran-contra affair, dropping the trial of Clark Clifford, the frontman for BCCI operations in US, and the pardon extended by General Musharraf to A Q Khan. Clark Clifford too was an icon in the US.

Before long, we will know whether the presidential campaign clashes between Kerry and Bush in the coming days will bring out the truth about the A Q Khan affair or the US establishment will close ranks to bury the issue to protect the CIA and many leading personalities

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