Saturday, January 24, 2004

What? Me worry?

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, personally acknowledged yesterday that scientists from his country appeared to have sold nuclear designs to other nations, probably "for personal financial gain." He denied that the Pakistani government knew of the sales at the time but vowed that those involved would be dealt with "as anti-state elements."

The New York Times goes on to relate how Musharraf struggled to find a solution after Pakistan was caught red-handed selling nuclear weapons technology to America's Most Wanted. Musharraf's statement, at a global economic forum here, came after several weeks of delicate efforts to force Pakistan to deal with the scientists, according to diplomats and U.S. officials. Technical documents recently obtained from Libya on its nuclear program, as well as documents relating to Iran's nuclear activities, undercut years of Pakistani denials and appeared to forced Musharraf's hand, diplomats and U.S. officials said. Not his hand, his finger. It forced him to point his finger at senior Pakistani nuclear scientists who are not even under arrest and -- gasp -- European companies. Musharraf told CNN that there were also credible allegations against European nuclear middlemen and other nations, "so it is not Pakistan alone." Washington suggested that it was not so easily deceived and hinted that it smelled something fishy.

U.S. officials, however, are clearly skeptical of those claims.  They note that when Pakistan received missile parts from North Korea -- believed to be the quid pro quo for nuclear aid -- a Pakistani air force cargo jet was dispatched to Pyongyang, North Korea, to pick up the parts. They also note that the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories are the crown jewel of the Pakistani nuclear program, with close ties to both the military and the intelligence agency, the ISI.

In the immortal words of Edward Wood Jr., "One thing’s sure: Inspector Clay’s dead. Murdered. And somebody’s responsible." Meanwhile, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed El Baradei,  expressed surprise, shock and dismay at these sensational developments. He said a:

global black market in nuclear materials and equipment had grown into a virtual "Wal-Mart" for weapons-seeking countries. El Baradei, director-general of the agency, the United Nations' watchdog on atomic weapons, said he was astonished by the scale and complexity of the illicit trafficking through which the Libyans obtained material and blueprints for nuclear weapons designs. "All of that was obtained abroad," he said in an interview during the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. "All of what we saw was a result of the Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation. "When you see things being designed in one country, manufactured in two or three others, shipped to a fourth, redirected to a fifth ... there's lots of offices all over the world," El Baradei said.

Lots of offices, lots, lots!  Just now the BBC reported that US inspector David Kay has found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, leading critics to suspect that they never existed. How could they ever? In the Slow Collapse 2, the Belmont Club argued that rogue nations had set up a virtual factory of WMDs by splitting up component production among themselves according a standard, and probably Pakistani, design, so that a 'smoking gun' could never be found in any one place. But if those rogue nations think they can pull the wool over sophisticated European eyes, they have another thing coming.  A post of this intellectual level must be concluded with a quotation from Edward Wood Jr.'s immortal film, Plan 9 from Outer Space:

Jeff Trent (Walcott): So what if we do develop this Solaranite bomb? We'd be even a stronger nation than now."
Eros (Dudley Manlove): "'Stronger.' You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!"