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Pakistan's aid to N. Korea may hasten N-race in Asia

Pakistan's aid to N. Korea may hasten N-race in Asia

Author: Manoj Joshi
Publication: The Times Of India
Date: November 19, 2002

For the past three decades, New Delhi has been preaching the world the inequities of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but it is unlikely to derive any pleasure from the revelation that Pakistan is providing nuclear weapon-making technology to North Korea.

As the country's nuclear tests shook the foundations of the NPT in 1998, India cannot afford to take a moralistic stand on the subject.

Whatever damage had to be done to India's interests had already been accomplished through the first part of the bargain, when the North Korean- supplied No-Dong or Ghauri medium-range ballistic missile brought most of India under the range of Pakistani nuclear weapons.

It is now the turn of countries like Japan and China, and South Korea, to worry about the consequences of Pakistan's irresponsible behaviour Having helped Pakistan to cross the nuclear threshold and equipped it with M-II missiles to lob them on India, Beijing is clearly hoist on its own petard. A sinking regime in Pyongyang won't think twice about threatening former friends and neighbours.

Following the Indian tests, Japan took the high road of chastising India. But now, if the North Koreans test their bomb, Japan may feel compelled to cross the threshold. Tokyo has a nuclear establishment that has everything in place to do so-lots of plutonium, superb machining capability as well as space launch rockets that could double as missiles.

Pakistan has breached the central taboo of the nuclear age: Thou shalt not help other countries to make nuclear weapons. In the 1950s, the US refused to share nuclear technology with its allies like France. Russia broke with China on the issue.

While China cynically aided Pakistan's nuclear and missile quest in the 1980s to humble India, Pakistan and North Korea form a different class of proliferators. Both are bankrupt "failed states" which feel that their dangerous weapons are their only bargaining chips.

What will be the consequences of the world's nuclear regime coming apart? The immediate one will be to enhance the danger of a nuclear war. But it could also kick-start a movement to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the world. The biggest opponent of such a course is the most powerful country in the world, the US.

No country or group of countries can even hope to match, leave alone best, the US in the next 50 years in conventional or non-nuclear military capability Yet the Americans have been the principal opponent of the movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons. But even the US may realise that yesterday's idealistic yearning could be today's common sense.

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