Monthly Archives: January 2021

R Carlin on KEDO

Robert Carlin recently wrote a good piece about KEDO, which implemented key parts of the Agreed Framework. The whole thing is worth a read, but this part particularly struck me:

The biggest surprise of all in KEDO’s New York headquarters came when in September 2005, we learned that Ambassador Christopher Hill, at the very meeting finalizing the Six Party Joint Statement, had announced that “the United States supports a decision to terminate KEDO by the end of the year.” Jaws dropped open.

<snip> [this feels really ~2005]

There had been no coordination, no warning from Washington this statement was coming, and thus no opportunity to prepare the ground ahead of time with the North Koreans. We still had workers at the site. We were still reviewing evacuation plans. And now, we had been left hanging.

AQ Khan Interview

This article by Younis Dar describes a recent BBC interview with AQ Khan: concerning Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program during Operation Brasstacks:

The architect of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, in a recent interview with the BBC, claims that it was his ‘informal conversation’ with an Indian journalist Kuldeep Nayyar at his residence on January 28, 1987, that helped prevent a war between the two countries.

Recalling the conversation, he says, Nayyar was in Pakistan for a wedding of his friend Mushahid Hussain, who had accompanied him to his house. “If you make ten bombs, we will make one hundred,” Kuldeep Nayyar tells Khan, who replies saying, “There is no need to make such a large number of bombs. Three or four will suffice on both sides.”

I went on to say that we are capable of making bombs in the shortest possible time,” claims Khan. The Pakistani nuclear scientist says that Kuldeep Nayyar later sold the excerpts from the ‘informal conversation’ to the London Observer for GBP 20,000.

“It wasn’t really an interview, just some gossip over tea,” Khan tells BBC.

The meeting took place at a time when Pakistani and Indian troops were lined up face-to-face on the international border in the Rajasthan and Punjab sectors.

The London Observer quoted Dr. Khan as saying, “If our survival is threatened, we will drop bombs.” The story also claimed that Pakistan had enriched uranium to the point of use in weapons and that it could be tested in a laboratory, attributing the claim to Dr. Khan.

After this interview was published, people in Pakistan began to believe that the ‘nuclear threat’ hidden in Kuldeep Nayyar’s news story had prevented India from launching a major attack on Pakistan. This claim became embedded in the Pakistani psyche, and very few challenged it.

Dr. A.Q. Khan unequivocally claims in the BBC interview that the news of his conversation with Kuldeep Nayyar had played a role in easing tensions. Although Pakistan’s nuclear program was still in its infancy at the time, the country was 12 years away from gaining nuclear status. Khan believes his ‘threat’ had worked.

It is also believed that General Zia’s threat to Rajiv Gandhi when he met him in Jaipur during a cricket match played a major role in calming the situation. Zia reportedly told Gandhi that if the Indian army did not withdraw immediately, he would order a nuclear attack. “Rajiv panicked and the result was that he ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Indian Army,” experts claim.

Dr. Qadeer told BBC that a few weeks before ​Operation ​Brass​t​ac​ks​, he had sent a written message to General Zia that Pakistan was capable of building a nuclear bomb on a ten-day notice. “It gave Zia the confidence to talk to Rajiv Gandhi and threaten him,” Khan added.

New Vajpayee Book and 1998 India Nuclear Tests

An excerpt from a new book by Shakti Sinha, aide to former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee has some details about the 1998 nuclear tests:

A few days before the tests, the chiefs of army, navy and airforce were briefed, followed by another briefing for the key members of the government, who constituted the cabinet committee on security. The morning of the test, 11 May, was pregnant with possibilities. Vajpayee had just shifted to 3 Race Course Road from 7 Safdarjung Road. Army units had installed special, direct lines from the Pokhran site, to avoid tapping, delays in communications or the non-availability of lines. The wind direction was adverse, and it delayed the tests.

Czech Missile Engines and Saudi Attacks

I can’t say that I’ve been looking, but I don’t remember seeing this before. The Czech Security Information Service report covering 2019 concluded that the engines in missiles used in the 2019 attack on KSA’s oil-related facilities were of Czech origin:

The attacks on Saudi civilian infrastructure in September 2019, including oil processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, are a good example of the risks posed by re-exportation andKSA reverse engineering of controlled items. The analysis of missile debris led to the conclusion that the attackers used copies of Czech engines. These engines had been constructed using the method of reverse engineering with the use of some original parts. The investigation of the attack has not been concluded in 2019.

Czech Intel on Proliferation 2018 and 2019

The annual reports from the Czech Security Information Service are always worth a read.

From the version covering 2019:

In 2019, countries of proliferation concerns, such as North Korea, Syria, Iran or Pakistan, continued their covert attempts to procure internationally controlled items. The countries used less known or purpose-created companies and third countries for re-exportation and tried to disguise money transfers in order to avoid being traced back.

From the version covering 2018:

In 2018, the BIS therefore also identified many cases of such countries trying to buy in the Czech Republic engineering devices, special materials, technologies and know-how that might be of use in research and development of their own WMDs. North Korea, Syria, Iran and Pakistan pose the gravest proliferation threat.

Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities

I recently re-read the 1988 Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between India and Pakistan. The breadth of Article I jumped out at me:

Each party shall refrain from undertaking, encouraging or participating in, directly or indirectly , any action aimed at causing destruction of, or damage to, any nuclear installation or facility in the other country.