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NightWatch 20110707


For the Night of 7 July 2011

Pakistan-North Korea: Special comment. The international news media have reported that Pakistan provided North Korea the technology and sample centrifuges for making Highly Enriched Uranium for nuclear weapons.

The source of the revelation is a newly disclosed letter sent in 1998 from a senior North Korean official to Abdul Qader Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. The letter contains details of  bribes or payoffs to then Chief of Army Staff General Jehangir Karamat and another general. It was signed by North Korean National Defense Commission member Chon Pyong Ho. The letter mentions missile components sent to Pakistan and the dispatch of a new emissary who has been in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iran - all conventional weapons or missile clients of North Korea.

Pakistani officials have charged the letter is a forgery by A.Q. Khan so as to distribute blame for his conviction for selling strategic secrets. Khan is under house arrest, but always swore he acted under orders from the highest authorities. In 1998, those would have been General Karamat and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Those luminaries always claimed Khan acted on his own in selling Pakistan's strategic nuclear secrets to North Korea.

US intelligence people have said the letter looks authentic, according to press reports. And this time they have it right. The transaction in 1998 involved strategic assets which North Korea and Pakistan guard jealously. Pakistan desperately needed a reliable nuclear weapons delivery system after India tested its nuclear weapons in 1998. Pakistan had tested its nuclear technology in response. The date of the letter is July 1998.

North Korea had plutonium for fissile material, but was in the market for uranium enrichment technology. North Korea had the NoDong medium range ballistic missile as a delivery system, a reliable weapons carrier, to trade for enrichment technology. Most nuclear weapons states have both plutonium and highly enriched uranium processes for producing fissile material.

The individuals mentioned in the letter include people who must be involved in such a transaction, namely General Karamat and Chon. Chon Pyong Ho was the chief of the Second Economic Committee, the North Korean name for the group that supervises the military industrial complex - all the plants that make ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and all other military ordnance. He is a classmate of Kim Chong-il, who still chairs the National Defense Commission.

Karamat probably did not take a bribe as he claims. Any money from North Korea would have been diverted into Pakistan Army secret funds. Chon Pyong Ho's involvement indicates the highest level of the North Korean government was involved directly in the transaction.  That raises a prima facie inference that Chon was dealing with his counterparts in Pakistan. RThe Chief of the Army Staff is the highest ranking military officer in Pakistan. A.Q. Khan was the project director and middleman.

The facts are that the four prototype uranium enrichment centrifuges that the North obtained were made in Pakistan and supplied by A.Q. Khan, by his own admission. The Ghauri missiles in the Pakistan Army came from North Korea and are  NoDongs.

The obvious inference is that this was a high level arrangement authorized by both governments. This was not a simple swap because of the huge follow-on investments in land and equipment required to build Ghauri missile production and testing facilities and bases in Pakistan and to build a nuclear enrichment centrifuge cascade in North Korea. These were large-scael and expensive undertakings by both countries.

In short, in 1998, Pakistan, a US friend, provided nuclear weapons technology to North Korea, an enemy with whom the US was and is still at war. The letter adds details about the physical exchange of strategic assets in 1998.

Pakistan-US: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral. Mike Mullen said 7July that the murder of a Pakistani journalist was sanctioned by the Pakistani government. Mullen said he did not have reason to disabuse that the Pakistani government knew about the murder.

Comment: The journalist was Syed Saleem Shahzad who was murdered in May for reporting on infiltration of the Pakistan armed forces by anti-government Islamic militants. For Mullen and other US officials to make unconditional statements about Pakistani government culpability means that the evidence is conclusive.

The above two reports are studies in Pakistani democracy.

Afghanistan-Canada: For the record. On Tuesday, Canadian troops officially handed over control of their last district to US forces. Canada's 2,800 troops are mandated by parliament to return home in 2011.

The Canadians are the first major contributor to begin a pull-out this year. The official end of Canada's mission was 7 July. A separate Canadian training mission, involving some 950 troops, will be based in Afghanistan to train local security forces.

Yemen: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave a televised address on 7 July from a military hospital in Saudi Arabia. The burns on his face were visible, his right arm was bandaged and Saleh said they required eight operations. He thanked Saudi Arabia for offering the best medical treatment for him and other Yemeni officials injured during the attack.

He told Yemenis, "Yemen's people are defiant and will remain defiant against all challenges that threaten its stability and security, freedom and democracy…We welcome partnerships based on the constitution, the constitution that ensures freedom of opinion. …But blocking roads and scaring people is not what it meant, everyone needs to reconsider their position."

Comment: Readers should ignore international media treatment. Saleh did not welcome power sharing. He was defiant and demanded that the opposition respect the constitution. There is no power sharing agreement. He intends to remain in office until voted out.

Syria: Syria has accused the US of "interfering" in its affairs after the US Ambassador travelled to the city of Hama without permission. The Syrian foreign ministry said "The presence of the US ambassador in Hama without previous permission is obvious proof of the implication of the United States in the ongoing events, and of their attempts to increase (tensions), which damage Syria's security and stability."

Earlier, the US State Department said Ambassador Ford's visit was to show solidarity with protesters.

A spokesperson said Ambassador Ford hopes to stay in Hama for anti-government protests which normally follow Friday prayers.

Comment: For a nation reported as engulfed in turmoil, the US Ambassador apparently moved rather easily to Hama from Damascus. That should add some balance to the confused and often contrived news coverage about conditions in Syria. At least the US government agencies should get a reliable first hand report about the protests in Hama.

Egypt: Update. Police will not be in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the protest scheduled for 8 July that is expected to have one million participants, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said. According to the statement, Interior Minister Mansour el-Essawy instructed his aides to respect the people's right to protest and to stay out of Tahrir Square unless called in.

El-Essawy and police chiefs reviewed the security plan, which limits police presence to the streets outside of the square, to ensure that all protests would be secure, according to the statement. El-Essawy warned police officers and his aides to watch for attempts to incite violence and directed police forces to resolve confrontations.

Comment: The transition to elected government does not seem to be going well, under military tutelage.

End of NightWatch for 7 July.

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