US access to Dr. AQ Khan?
Ending military ties with Pakistan over AQ Khan access: US congress unlikely to pass bill
WASHINGTON: A bill introduced last week in the US House of Representatives, if passed, will prohibit American military assistance and the sale, transfer, or licencing of United States military equipment or technology to Pakistan.
However, given the confidence the Bush administration has reposed in the present government of Pakistan, it is highly unlikely that the bill will become law. The bill can only be seen as a pressure tactic on Pakistan. The sponsors of the bill are all members of the India Caucus, the group that supports Indian causes in Congress.
The bill has been introduced by old Pakistan critic Gary Ackerman with four co-cosponsors, including another long-time critic of Pakistani policies and actions, Frank Pallone.
The bill presents to Congress as established fact that Dr AQ Khan established and operated an illegal international network which sold nuclear weapons and related technologies to a variety of countries, including North Korea which allegedly received complete uranium enrichment centrifuges and designs and a list of components necessary to manufacture additional uranium enrichment centrifuges. The network is also said to have provided Libya with designs for a nuclear weapon, as well as for uranium enrichment centrifuges. The Pakistani government’s admission of March 2005 that an “illegal international nuclear proliferation network established by Dr. Khan provided uranium enrichment centrifuges to Iran” is cited as proof of Islamabad’s culpability. Islamabad is also charged with not having provided any opportunity for the US to interview Dr Khan directly.
The bill says that it is the “sense of Congress” that the US government has an interest in knowing the full extent of the illegal international nuclear proliferation network established and operated by Dr Khan in order to ensure that the “illegal international nuclear proliferation network” has been dismantled. Dr Khan is also required to give a “full accounting of the activities and participants of the network” to Washington.
The operative clause of the bill would oblige the US to prohibit military assistance to Pakistan as well as ban transfer or sale of military equipment or technology unless the President certifies to Congress that Pakistan has provided the US unrestricted opportunities to interview Dr Khan, complied with requests for assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the “illegal international nuclear proliferation network, including by providing requested documents, materials, equipment, and access to individuals” and determined the full scope of the activities and participants of the Khan network. Washington is also asked to determine “the nature and extent of the illegal international nuclear proliferation network’s connection to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.” The bill also calls for the dismantling of the “proliferation network” in association with the IAEA.