By Sapan Kapoor:
Many events have taken place in this last week of November 2010 that have had a huge impact on the entire world. North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells on a South Korean garrison island, which is also a home to around 1400 civilians, mainly fisherman. This unwarranted attack killed two South Korean soldiers and two civilians, and injured 16 people. South Korea also replied with artillery firing on North Korea. The situation in the Korean peninsula still remains critical when South Korea and The United States, a close ally, decided to conduct joint military exercises in response to North Korean provocation.
The matter is so serious that the South Korean Defense Minister had to give his resignation for his alleged failure to give a befitting reply to North Korea’s aggression. Lee Myung-bak, the President of South Korea, has even gone on to threaten North Korea to “pay a dear price for further aggression”. The situation in the Korean peninsula still remains so dangerous that it could go out of control at any time.
Another major development in this week is the leakage of some 250,000 messages of US envoys around the world by a whistle-blower website ‘WikiLeaks’. Some of the leaks reveal how North Korea supplied Iran 19 advanced missiles, based on Russian origins that could clear the path towards the development of long range missiles and they also show how some of the rich Arab leaders pressed the United States to take a strong military action against Iran in order to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. The powerful King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia even went on to urge the United States to “cut off the head of the snake” while there was still time. It is to be noted that the Arab countries have the majority of Sunni Muslims while Iran is a Shia majority country and this is speculated to be due to the friction between the two communities.
Considering these shocking revelations, it is not possible to rule out the possibility of North Korea helping Iran make the nuclear bomb. If this happens; it will be similar to a Doomsday scenario for entire Middle East and would trigger a dangerous nuclear arms race among the other nations in the region. But how North Korea got its nuclear bomb is no secret to anyone. It is also not a secret how the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, on a state visit to North Korea in 1993, had allegedly smuggled in critical data on uranium enrichment- a route to making a nuclear weapon- to help facilitate a missile deal with that country. The fact that in 2004 Dr. Abdul Kadir Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atom program, had also admitted sharing the sensitive nuclear technology through his unauthorized and rogue global network to the host of recipients that also included North Korea- is also not a secret anymore.
The point that should strike us all now is that the same North Korea, a rogue dynastic power, who got its nuclear know-how from Pakistan, a nation whose vibrant civil society still gives some hope, is probably going to provide the same nuclear technology to Iran, another rogue country. This nexus of the rogue nations is going to prove deadly to the entire world. If you follow the dots then that day is not far when Iran would also test its nuclear weapon and would then create panic and chaos in the whole region and in the world at large. However efforts are indeed under way to stop this from happening.
There are reports of unidentified assailants on motorcycles launching bomb attacks against two Iranian nuclear physicists in Tehran, killing one of them and prompting accusations by Iran that the United States and Israel were behind the episode. This was certainly not a first attack on the Iranian nuclear physicists though. The attacks were very similar to a bombing of last year in which a remote-controlled bomb killed a physics professor, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, outside his home while another nuclear scientist, Ardeshir Hosseinpur, was poisoned to death. The Iranian President, Mehmoud Ahmadinezad, who is highly infuriated because of the attacks, has threatened the US and Israel with serious consequences if provoked again. The United States terms all these allegations as absurd and baseless.
We can’t say with certainty whether these attacks are being sponsored by the US or not but one thing is for sure that Israel would do anything to stop Iran- who vows to eliminate Israel from the world’s map- from getting the nuclear weapons in order to protect its own existence and it is also preparing to attack Iran according to the leaked documents. This could trigger a nasty war in the region which could result in the loss of millions of innocent lives. In order to stop this from happening it is very important to stop Iran from making the bomb and that could only be done by breaking this deadly nexus of ‘rogue nations’.
If the revelations made by WikiLeaks are to be believed then efforts are surely underway to ‘secure’ and ‘protect’ the nuclear program of Pakistan- who still remains a weak link in nuclear non proliferation efforts. According the leaked messages, since 2007 the United States has been engaged in a secret effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor. The US administration, the leaks further reveal, authorized this effort because American officials feared the material could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. But these American efforts have faced some resistance from Pakistan too.
As per the leaks the former US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, in May 2009, reported to the State Department that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”.
However it is heartening to see that at least the US has realized the danger of the bomb falling into the wrong hand and has started taking preventive measures in this regard. The world must redouble its non-proliferation efforts and at the same time make sure that the nations like Iran-whose intentions don’t look noble- don’t get the nuclear weapons. Perhaps this is high time when major power and two largest democracies like India and the United States take a lead in non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Let’s have a world which is free of nuclear weapons and this is not possible without breaking the deadly nexus of rogue nations that still exists in our world.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. A freelance journalist, with interests ranging from serious socio-political issues to sports and culture, Sapan still clings to the belief that the pen is mightier than the sword.