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Role of India, West, in worldwide nuclear proliferation
By Makhdoom Babar
(Editor-in-Chief)


ISLAMABAD While Pakistan has come out clean and transparent from the nuclear technology transfer fiasco, like a responsible and self respecting nation, unfortunately there are many countries that are still engaged in cover-up and trying to sweep their own even worst involvements under the carpet. Quite to the contrary one sees a continuous effort on the part these countries and their hostile media to malign Pakistan through their motivated campaign. Unfortunately these media pundits keep using the figment of their imaginations to cook false stories against Pakistan at the same time ignoring and even black-outing credible information about proliferation activities of their own nationals or of the countries with which they have certain vested interest. It is an undeniable fact that nuclear rat-race and proliferation started in the West and was picked up by India and Israel from them. Pakistan started its efforts to develop nuclear deterrence out of absolutely necessity and purely with the objective of safeguarding its own sovereignty; security and territorial integrity after India had already conducted its first nuclear test way back in 1974. Pakistan could not remain a passive bystander given India’s continued belligerent posture forcing three major wars on it and dismembering half of Pakistan merely three years earlier in 1971.

During 1970s and 1980s Western companies openly touted developing countries even those who had pledged not to develop nuclear weapons by signing NPT, to buy nuclear technology and materials from them. Ironically many of these countries had placed restrictions through domestic legislation on export of these nuclear materials, pursuant to the obligations undertaken by them under the self created mechanism of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Pakistan on the other hand has carried out all these investigations against it top scientist without any international obligation stemming from an international treaty signed by it or any voluntary export control group such as the NSG membership.

Numerous reports and findings have indicated that Western countries and India are involved in nuclear black market sales in a big way. Even until very recently the companies and individuals of these countries have been supplying sensitive technology and materials to Iran, Iraq, Libya and other countries. Many of these countries notably India have been supplying these materials to them under the cover of peaceful cooperation agreements trying to hoodwink the international community. Unfortunately the West has been quite condoning of these massive abuses on part of India and its own countries while it has chosen to nitpick Pakistan.

Nuclear cooperation between India and Iraq started in 1974 under the direct supervision of Saddam Hussain himself on the Iraqi side when he was still the Vice President. Saadam flew to India specially to sign a Nuclear Cooperation Treaty with the then Indian Prime Minster Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The little known Treaty involved the exchange of scientists, training and technology. [i] To cover up the secret Treaty India and Iraq signed an overt “Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the Republic of Iraq relating to the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy on 28 March 1974 in New Delhi. The Agreement was signed by the then Indian Foreign Secretary Mr. Kewal Singh and the Head of Economic Bureau of Iraq Mr. Fakhri Y. Kaddori in the presence of Mrs. Gandhi and Saddam. India tested it first nuclear explosive device on 18 May 1974, in less than two months time from signing of these agreements, thanks to the massive infusion of Iraqi petro-dollars to the programme. It is a further irony that the 12 kilotons nuclear explosion was code named as ‘Smiling Buddha’ by the Indians an obvious slant to insult the peaceful teachings of Buddha reflective of the disdain that the Hindus extremists have for Buddhism.

Incidentally India had itself used the CANDU reactors supplied to it by the Government of Canada to extract Plutonium for this test. In addition the technical assistance and reactor designs supplied by Canada to India enabled it to develop a capacity to produce over 300 Kilograms of plutonium annually [ii]. Only 5 to 8 Kg Plutonium is required to produce a nuclear bomb. India was again included into CANDU discuss consultative information exchange Group in 1980s despite its obvious abuse. In 1995 Canadian atomic energy staff visited India to discuss another sale of CANDU reactors to India. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre developed tritium a heavy water isotope in the Canadian design power reactors [iii]. The same tritium was used in the 1998 Indian tests.

Coming back to the Indo-Iraqi nexus, the Iraqi researchers were allowed access to work with Indian scientists in the Plutonium separation labs that were used to extract Plutonium for India’s first Nuclear explosion. Saddam later managed to obtain a nuclear fuel reprocessing unit from CNEN of Italy. India also leased numerous scientists to Iraq under the garb of Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement over the years. One such scientists spent an year training Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission’s Scientists on use of nuclear computer codes [iv] to carry out computer simulated cold nuclear tests. India taught Iraq many tricks, including how easy it was to hide a nuclear weapons program under the cover of peaceful use [v].

In the words of a former Iraqi nuclear scientist Khidhir Abdul Abas Hamza who defected Iraq in 1994, Iraq’s Nuclear weapons program was personally directed by Saddam which abetted by a host of Western countries and India over a period of several decades. According to Hamza it was surprising how easy it was to negotiate peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements with Soviet Union, India, Brazil, France and other Eoropean countries to cover obtaining technology for weapons programme [vi] . “We were astonished that companies were actually helping us find cover stories for equipment needed by us” Hamza was quoted in an interview. Hamza’s disclosures had detailed information about how some Indian companies and German companies helped Iraqi nuclear programme, including Degussa AG, Leybold.

The nuclear cooperation between Iraq and India continued under the patronage of two governments and soon extended to other Iraqi WMD programmes like Chemical and Biological Weapons. India had an extensive covert chemical weapons programme and it helped Iraq tremendously in this field. India itself lied to the international community when it signed Chemical Weapons Treaty in 1997 as a non Chemical weapons State but later admitted it CWs programme under threat of challenge inspection. In 1986 India had procured 160,000 aluminium tubes from European suppliers and again in 2000-1 which CIA presumed was a proof of an Iraqi centrifuge program. Iraq turned to Indian company NEC and Dubai Brnch of Indian Company TT S.A. [vii] when other source failed to provide it Al tube. A Dubai based Iraqi businessman Muntasir Awni acted as conduit between the two Indian companies and Iraqi company Rasheed for supply of these Al tubes. NEC Engineers India Private LTD also supplied al-Mamoon Plant in Iraq a new plant to produce ammonium perchlorate a key ingredient in the production of solid fuel propollent rocket motors [viii]. NEC also supplied technology for Fallujah 2 chlorine plant. Aording to an independent Iraqi paper, alMada, Saddam also paid oil as bribes to Indian Congress Party’s top officials [ix] ostensively to create political support inside of India for such sensitive transfers.

India’s nuclear cooperation with Iran also has a long history. In 1994 police in the West Khasi Hills District of Indian state of Meghalaya nearby Uranium mining site, accidently arrested four persons trying to smuggle large quantity of Uranium. Police sources claimed that that a former employee of Indian Atomic Energy Commision (AEC) then working in the Persian Gulf (probably Iran) was linked with the deal [x]. However, the case was hushed up so as not to expose the linkup of Indian nuclear establishment with nuclear underworld via Dubai serving aspirant countries having covert nuclear programme for heavy sums of money.

Earlier in 1991 Iran and India were negotiating the sale of a 10 megawatt research reactor for installation at Iranian facilty at Kalaye Electric Company and possible sale of a 220-megawatt nuclear Kalaye Electric Company (KEC) and the possibility of sale of a research power reactor. US applied pressure on India not to undertake these contracts. Although under US pressure India initially seemed to comply with US demand, however, credible reports indicated that India may have after all secretly carried through the deal by March 1992 despite US pressure [xi]. Interestingly it is at the KEC that traces of LEU and HEU were discovered by the IAEA during environment sampling, which led to admittance by Iran in October 2003 that it carried out centrifuge testing over there using UF6 [xii]. It also admitted extraction of small amounts of Plutonium. It had earlier claimed to have developed designs using supplier’s drawings.

These disclosures were coupled with a sensational discovery that a leading Indian nuclear scientist and former Chairman and Managing Director of Nuclear Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Dr. Y.S.R. Prasad has been employed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) after his retirement in 2000 [xiii]. The revelation came as a part of Iran’s efforts to fulfill its promise to the IAEA to make complete declaration of its past and present activities in a bid to clear its name from allegations of developing nuclear weapons. However, India managed to partially blackout the news with an amazing speed. The news item was got removed from the website of Hindustan Times [xiv] within hours of its pasting by special instructions of Indian Ministry of Media and Information. Indian send special emissary to Tehran pursuing it not to make any further disclosures about the extent of involvement of other officials of Atomic Energy Commission (AEG), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of India and NPCIL in the Iranian nuclear programme. Indian Foregn Minister Yashwant Sinha also later paid a visit to Tehran on 13 December 2003 pleading with Iranians to mute on nuclear engagements with the Indians. He reiterated india’s support to Iran on Peaceful uses of Nuclear energy and promised to buy Iranian gas [xv] to satisfy insatiably increasing energy demands in India’s large metrololis and industry.

Dr Y.S.R . Prasad who worked a lifelong with the Indian nuclear establishment has had quite a history of questionable practices. During his frequent visits to the former Soviet Union in connection with nuclear collaboration programme between India and USSR subsequently Russia, Prasad developed an extensive network with the lowly paid Russian nuclear scientists. Many of these scientists were either laid off or were further meagerly paid after Soviet breakup owing to inflation and devaluation. Prasad soon developed a network of nuclear underworld with the help off these Russian scientists who were willing to offer everything from the poorly audited nuclear inventories of Russia and other breakaway Republics. At many of these facilities guards and even scientist remained without salaries for months.

Even back home Prasad’s activities had started raising eyebrows. NPCIL which Prasad headed had become a breading ground for nepotism and sycophancy developing a dangerous coverup culture [xvi]. Prasad was the linchpin of an unholy nexus between unscrupulous business establishments, corrupt officials of NPCIL and the ‘sacred cow’ DAE, India. Serious irregularities were discovered by audit in the procurement by NPCIL for Kakrapara atomic power station. Fraudulent practices were also reported in procurement for Kaiga I and II power stations in Karnatka and RAPP III and IV power stations at Rawatbhata near Kota, Rajasthan [xvii]. Prasad meanwhile managed to get an extension in his service through his networking within the Indian nuclear establishment particularly with the blessings of Chairman AEC and Secretary DAE Dr. Chidambaram, despite having reached the age of superannuation in 1998. Nonetheless, Prasad realized that it would be difficult for him to clinch to the Indian nuclear network for long and started looking for other venues. His contacts with Iran in connection with clandestine nuclear cooperation with India proved handy and landed him a job in Tehran.Prasad left NPCIL on 30 April 2003 but before he managed to manipulate putting his close confidant Chaudary Surender in his shoes even though Chaudary was also on a two years extension due to expire in August 2000.

Iran’s nuclear programme received a major boost with joining of Prasad. Owing to his resourceful network within the Indian and Russian nuclear circles pieces of nuclear puzzle started to fall in place at an amazing pace. Alarm bells were raised US Administration reportedly made strong demarches with the Indians to tighten their export controls of nuclear materials and technology. US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Under Secretary Richard Armitage and Christina Rocca South Asia raised the issue of lax Indian export controls at several occasions [xviii].
 

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