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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 10:31 GMT
Nuclear proliferation: Is Pakistan doing enough?
Launch of nuclear missile at Kahuta Research Laboratories
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pardoned the disgraced founder of the country's nuclear programme.

Abdul Qadeer Khan stunned the nation when he confessed on television to leaking nuclear weapons secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

On Wednesday the White House welcomed Pakistan's attempts to crack down on nuclear proliferation.

However, Pakistan's opposition parties have criticised President Musharraf of bowing to American pressure.

There have been claims that Khan was forced to make his statement and that it was a cover-up - something strenuously denied by the government.

What do you think? Is Pakistan doing enough in the war on terror? What should the world do about Pakistan's leaking of secret nuclear technology?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your comments:

This topic was suggested by Chandru from California:
Pakistan's proliferation of nuclear technology - what should the world do about it?

Musharraf's pardon is a hoax, and is an attempt by Pakistan to legitimise the transfer of nuclear technology. Musharraf has beaten the Americans at diplomacy by his token actions.
DP Pandey, ISM Dhanbad, India

The acquisition of nuclear technology by nearly all countries has been through one or more illicit methods. But, whatever the means of acquiring the technology, it is shameful that some countries claim to have more rights in possessing the means of killing millions of innocent civilians, than others.
Asif Hayat, S Korea

Of course they are not doing enough. Kahn said he was alone in giving nuclear info to others. He was then pardoned. I find it very hard to believe that no one was involved. There must be dozens of other people who knew what was going on.
Ian Hill, Cochabamba, Bolivia

We are missing a point over here. The question is being raised as if transfer of technology hasn't happened before. How did countries like Israel, India, or for that matter, Brazil and other countries got the technology? Talk about Pakistan's leaking of secret nuclear technology? Would the countries responsible for the transfer of technology to the above mentioned countries stand up, admit it and then conduct an investigation as to whose is responsible?
Hasan, Lahore, Pakistan

How safely guarded can Pakistan's nuclear technology be if a handful of people could transfer this knowledge right under the government/Armies noses? This saga has demonstrated the lackadaisical attitude of their government on such a serious issue.
Siddhartha Datta, Kolkata, India

It is not for the first time that transfer of technology has happened
Mariya, Lahore, Pakistan
The world should be silent about the whole matter regarding Pakistan leaking secret nuclear technology as it is not for the first time that transfer of technology has happened. Nobody questions or fears anything about US-Israel technology transfer. So anyone demanding an enquiry should be the first one to open its gate to UN observers. Secondly why is no one pointing fingers at China who was the main player in helping Pakistan making a nuclear bomb. Could it be that they are supposed to be the next super power and any criticism will lead to trade loss with China? We should appreciate the Pakistani Government for overtly accepting the mistake.
Mariya, Lahore, Pakistan

I think the US is giving undue importance to Pakistan as its ally in the fight against terror and allowing it to get away with virtually anything. The UN should declare sanctions against Pakistan, as done with Iraq and Libya, and control its borders so that no terrorists or WMD ever goes out of Pakistan. Only then, will the US and UN maintain its credibility on the war against terror.
Vinay Chitnis, Pune, India

Pakistan like any other country has the right to defend itself. But being Nuclear means more responsibility. What has happened has already happened but in the future Pakistan should make sure this never ever happens again and rules should be laid out and followed.
Najam Zahir, Houston, Texas

Pakistan gets off without even a "slap on the wrist" from Bush for doing everything the US claimed to be afraid Iraq might do - including proliferation of WMDs & support of terrorists. The whole world pretends not to notice. So, what else is new?
Bob, Taos, USA

Pakistan was forced by USA, to run an underground program to acquire nuclear capability. Dr Khan worked for the Pakistan for over 30 years. Only in the last 10 years, did he get tempted. In the USA and UK there have been even greater betrayals by people who contributed much less to the nation. This Pakistani contributed to his nation. How come when an individual in Pakistan does something wrong it is crime but people doing the same things in the UK and USA only commit Errors of Judgement, etc.
Jamil Chaudri, Huntington, WV, USA

This is the most significant failure of botched nuclear non-proliferation effort by USA, former USSR and all of the West. Musharraf continues to "play" everyone by changing sides and making policy change u-turns as needed for his own convenience.
DJ, Moscow, Russia

What is this talk about nuclear secrets? Every collage teacher or university student in the West could and does learn enough quantum physics to learn how to make a nuclear bomb. This hasn't been a secret for decades now.
Sören A, Skövde, Sweden

As a sovereign nation Pakistan has the right to do whatever it pleases, it is not up to the rest of the world to judge or comment on that country.
Azman, Bangladesh

It should not be the point that THIS happened in Pakistan. The point is Pakistan IS cooperating. It should be remembered by the whole world that President Musharraf is the only person in Pakistan who delivered what he promised.
Sadiq Ali Bohra, Hyderabad, Pakistan

It is unimaginable that Pakistan which is tottering on the brink of being a failed state still insists that it needs nukes in its arsenal. The resources squandered to acquire this 'asset' of dubious national security value could have been put to much better use. It is time Pakistan is denuked and put on the part to development as the latter is the only sure security asset it needs!
Suba, Malaysia

The news emanating is much more dramatic than the making of the bomb itself
Pratheep P S, Mysore

The news emanating is much more dramatic than the making of the bomb itself. I feel the confession and the pardon are not the problem and its simple solution. It's not the question of a scientist's integrity alone. If things are going on at this rate, the world will wake up one day with the surprise news of a nuclear bomb explosion anywhere on the globe. The chain reaction to it world over is highly unpredictable and uncontrollable.
Pratheep P S, Mysore, India

If one of the reasons to invade Iraq was to avoid the spreading of WMDs, what is the coalition of the willing waiting for to invade Pakistan? The Pakistan government is not elected in a democratic way and it clearly is spreading secret nuclear technology. Or did MI6 and, or the CIA not know all these things?
Kurt David, Izegem, Belgium

Thirty years ago I had an Economics professor in college who said "Peel away the layers of propaganda and hyperbole of governments: and you'll find the core of every war or conflict since the beginning of civilization is based on two things - wealth and power." Given the number of innocent lives that have been lost since the war on terror was declared almost three years ago, it is a crime against humanity that Pakistan is not held accountable for its criminal and unconscionable actions in selling WMD technology.
Chuck Kulig, Chicago, USA

Khan has been pardoned. So the big shots in the WMD business go safe because they are allies (somehow) and poor Iraqi conscripts have been bombed to pieces. This is a global game where small cliques of powerful people try to take profits at the expense of the many. Democracy means doing what they demand.
Andreas, Munich, Germany

I cannot understand how the Pakistan Military/Government can claim to not have known about the nuclear transfer when they were receiving valuable missile technology in exchange. Did these missiles just appear? The West should stop being so naive about the leadership's role in this affair.
Jaymeen, London, UK

It's a hard time for Pakistan, its government and its people, and of course our national hero Dr Khan. He has protected Pakistan by taking all the blame. He is a true Muslim and a patriotic Pakistani. I salute him.
Dr Hafeezullah, Karachi, Pakistan

Well planned and well executed
Sajjad W, Karachi

I think that proliferating nuclear weapons is in Pakistan's best interests. It will not be targeted as possessing the 'Islamic Bomb'. Plus, the more countries with such weapons, the less pressure on Pakistan's weapons program. All this was smartly staged. Well planned and well executed. Good work guys.
Sajjad W, Karachi, Pakistan

Pakistan like every other country has the right to defend her country and beliefs. If she feels that the best course of action is to embrace nuclear arms, she has that right. However, like wealth, it comes with responsibilities that she clearly ignored.
Peter Bath, Brisbane, Australia

I fail to understand what all the fuss is about and I find it outrageous that people demand that Pakistan submits to UN inspections. Pakistan should only submit to inspections if all 8 nuclear powers of the world agree to do so.
Sardar Nadir Khan Baloch, Bahawalpur, Pakistan

I think the best course of action has been followed. Pakistan is not a rogue state. There were faults in nuclear exports as there have been in other countries but they have not been publicised. But now that the government has completed its investigations there is nothing more that can or should be done. Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world and can't be brow beaten easily. It has leant from mistakes of the past and now it's time to move on.
Saqib, London, UK

How hypocritical is it for the countries who originally developed nuclear weapons and have them in their arsenal to prevent other countries from getting the technology? I am all for non-proliferation, but this is only appropriate if all countries with nuclear capabilities get rid of their nuclear facilities and weapons. Let's be fair!
Rachel, California, USA

I think it is very ignorant to say that it is ok for other countries to have nuclear weapons. Every day the world becomes a more dangerous place and no country should have nuclear weapons, including the USA.
Mark Michaud, Boston, MA USA

Why shouldn't the developing countries of the world have nuclear weapons? Is the fear that they will wave nuclear weapons as a big stick to threaten smaller and weaker states? Oh guess what? That already happens today. The only way to bring balance to power in the world is for all nations to have nuclear weapons.
Ricky Ashton, Bonn, Germany

In an ideal world the Pakistanis should be left to sort this on their own
James, Fairfax, VA, USA
This is an extremely delicate matter. Musharraf has been a solid ally of the US since the attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. It appears that majority of this took place previous to his seizing power. In an ideal world the Pakistanis should be left to sort this on their own. However the world that we live in is far from ideal. The two previous attempts on his life in December underscore the delicacy of the situation. With no clear order to succession and with the intelligence service loyalty in the air it would be best if we could get someone from outside to go in and secure Pakistan's nuclear facilities to ensure that their weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorists.
James, Fairfax, VA, USA

I fail to understand why the western media is only concentrating on the alleged involvement of Pakistani nuclear scientists. Investigations have also revealed the involvement of many other countries including Europeans. I think one must look at the whole picture instead of finger pointing a part of it.
Manzoor Ul Haq, Calgary, Canada

The lifting of US-led sanctions in September of 2001 was a good faith measure that has since proven a mistake. Their cooperation in the war on terror has been poor at best and the leaking of nuclear technology, presumably with governmental knowledge, is just another reminder of the corruption and dysfunction of this regime.
Adam, Houston, USA

Pakistan is a sovereign nation and has every right to acquire whatever technology and weapons it needs for its national interests, just as some of the superpowers of the world put their national interests on top of any ethical or moral compulsions.
Naresh Singhal, California, USA

The whole thing smells like a B movie plot
Dahesh Patel, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, USA
I find it extremely unlikely that Pakistan's top scientist could divulge secrets about the country's most well secured program without knowledge of the government. The whole thing smells like a B movie plot.
Dahesh Patel, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, USA

Pakistan will not be the solution to terrorism, it is THE problem. All their lies and deceit, to which USA has always turned a blind eye, will come to haunt USA and its poodle UK, when a dirty radioactive bomb, which AK Khan has given Osama, will go off somewhere. Only then will they stop their hypocrisy - which is that they attacked the wrong country in Iraq.
Sanjeev Chowdhury, Munich, Germany

Pakistani scientist and the government have acted in a very honourable and graceful manner by publicly admitting of what happened. It was a very courageous thing to do in the circumstances and surely much better than trying to sweep things under the carpet as the other powers of the world may do in similar situations. After this incident clearly Pakistan stands out at as responsible nuclear power and the others should follow the example by ensuring transparency, (no matter what the reaction may be), in order to make the dangerous world, just a little bit safer?
Mujahid Malik, London

I can't understand how some can take leaking nuclear secrets so lightly. This is not a game but by some of the comments on this board I can see that a few of you are hoping for Armageddon. You might just get it.
Brian Nann, New Jersey

Nothing to worry about this news. One day each & every country will have Nuclear Capability as this is not a copyright product of specific country. The worry is, What safety measure is going to protect the world from the WMD?
Badrudeen, Dubai, Indian in UAE.

The damage might already have been done
Steven Cooper, St. Albans, UK
The leakage of nuclear technology by Pakistan's top scientist to rogue states should be viewed in a very serious light, especially at a time when the world is increasingly endangered by the threats of terrorism. By allowing such a grave transfer to take place, Pakistan has proved itself to be incapable of handling its nuclear status with responsibility. The damage might already have been done.
Steven Cooper, St. Albans, UK

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan is more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden and what Gen Musharraf is doing now is all about managing international pressure. There is no true desire to halt the spread of nuclear technology. Pakistan is like a double edged sword, she is helping us now, she may help extremists later. Can Pakistan be trusted?
David Chhetri, Canada

This is a painful yet a necessary exercise in democracy and accountability. The Pakistani Government owes it to itself and the world community to clean house and remove the religious fundamentalists and mavericks out of the nuclear program. These people have caused Pakistan untold shame and disgraced the nation.
Waqar, Gaithersburg, USA

President Musharraf is taking very bold steps to bring long term stability to the region
Nargis, Toronto, Canada
Pakistan has done and is doing more than enough in the war on terrorism. President Musharraf is taking very bold steps to bring long term stability to the region. For once, the Western media and governments should do the right thing and let him bring these bold initiatives to fruition. What we need is to strengthen President Musharraf's hands so that there can be lasting peace in the region and in the world. Is only the West and its allies allowed to survive or can the small and poor countries also have their share? So if the world wants to have lasting peace, the policies of the West will have to be more equitable and just.
Nargis, Toronto, Canada

I would think, Khan deserved the highest penalty as he leaked technology and he influenced others to do the same. It is good start and still long way to go..
S Rahman, Delaware, USA

I don't see why peaceful countries like North Korea, Iran, Libya should not have nuclear weapons. And so what if the Pakistani supplied it?
Odeko Zindabadwe, Lahore, Pakistan

How can Dr Khan be pardoned when it isn't even known what he revealed and to what extent this information constitutes a threat? It stinks of a farce. Getting one man to say 'sorry' is not enough to repay the possible implications of selling nuclear information, even if the US is putting pressure on Musharraf. However, something clearly else lies behind this revelation and pardon - isn't it quite apparent that Dr Khan is just being used as a scapegoat (surely he wasn't alone in his actions)? What benefits are Pakistan enjoying from this farce? We all need to keep the whole context of US dominance in sharp focus, however distorted the presentation of the reality.
Perry, Paris, France

Suggestions that Pakistan's army and intelligence services were unaware of these deals defy credulity. Pakistan owes the world an apology and must submit to IAEA nuclear inspections ASAP.
James Brickmeier, Columbus, OH, USA

What we are seeing is a cover-up of major proportions
Mirek Kondracki, Alexandria, VA, USA
Abdul Qadder Khan admitted that he had smuggled abroad not only documents but also devices for uranium enrichment process. Everybody in Islamabad says (off the record) that Khan could have smuggled abroad documents, but certainly not devices without knowledge and help of the military intelligence. The same people claim that the Musharraf's government was certainly involved in the proliferation, and that Gen. Musharraf agreed to pardon the "father of Pakistani atomic bomb" only after he had promised that he would take all the blame on himself and claim in public statements that he committed the crime without government's knowledge, let alone cooperation. What we are seeing is a cover-up of major proportions.
Mirek Kondracki, Alexandria, VA, USA

In 1999 I wrote an email to BBC News Online "Talking Point" about the coup in Pakistan. I stated that with an obscure general coming to power in a corrupt Islamic country, the implications for world peace would be very bad indeed. Now we witness their top scientist selling atomic secrets and getting off with a slap on the wrist. The war on terror should be waged on countries selling WMD technology. Instead Pakistan is rewarded. No wonder people are confused. Why not disarm Pakistan's WMD and put an end to this evil empire before it really is too late.
Abdulfez, Tokyo, Japan

Did Pakistan invent the nuclear bomb? No. Did it get the technology from another country? Yes. Did that country get it from another country? Yes. Doesn't it all lead to an obvious question for all that there should be NO nuclear weapons in this world? If we agree to it, then all the countries should comply by getting rid of their nuclear weapons. If not, then I am afraid its not possible to stop the spread of this technology - be it used as a deterrent (like Pakistan does) or as a show of ultimate power.
Imran Khan, Tampa, FL, USA

The world has to deal with Pakistan like a rogue nation
Sam, New York, USA
Pakistan is a rogue country. The US govt. is repeating the mistakes they made with Saddam Hussein in the 80's. Then, they supported and armed Hussein to 'rein in' Iran. Now they are doing the same thing with Pakistan (and Musharraf) - a nation that created Taliban, is very close to al-Qaeda and is now a known nuclear proliferator. The world has to deal with Pakistan like a rogue nation and not depend on empty and hollow words of Musharraf.
Sam, New York, USA

If with so much military security and tight intelligence scrutiny the scientists were able to smuggle such large pieces of nuclear production equipment without them noticing it missing; my fear is how many nuclear bombs have already gone missing and when and where are we likely to find them in future.
John Wright, New York, USA

Disarm Pakistan's nuclear capability. The episode of leaking nuclear secrets demonstrates that Pakistan is not trustworthy with nukes.
Monirul, Bangladesh

Technically, Dr A Q Khan has not committed any offence, as Pakistan is not a signatory to any international nuclear non-proliferation agreement.
Nausherwan Lahori, Lahore, Pakistan

I think there is more to this than meets the eye. I think Dr Khan has been made to say what he said on television to get the government out of an embarrassing position. Dr Khan has surely not acted alone. There is a government and military hand in this.
Arvind, USA

Why does the West wait for a disaster to happen before it takes action?
Miles, UK

This confession all seems so convenient. It is obvious that North Korea is not an Islamic country and Pakistan benefited from its missiles, as a direct result of the exchange of nuclear technology. If any country should be punished it should be China, who proliferated its nuclear technology to Pakistan. Why does the West wait for a disaster to happen before it takes action?
Miles, UK

The origin of the story lies in the western and European countries itself. These countries encourage all illegal activities of the regimes in the areas of interest and supply them with every sort of equipment. The world community should tackle the issue right from the roots, from the countries capable of making the sensitive equipment. It is ironical to note that technology transfer from the west was completely unguarded and has been happening in the region which houses IAEA itself. As regards Dr Khan, he is the pride of the nation and his part in proliferation is far less than the developers of the technology.
Shakoor, Islamabad, Pakistan

The televised apology of Dr Khan simply suggests something more sinister going on in the background. It appears to be too facile to believe that the military did not have full control of a military state.
M C Satish, Edison, USA

The proper job for the international community is to subject Pakistan to arms and financial embargo for nuclear proliferation. The news that only four countries benefited from this is only a tip of the iceberg. It's only a matter of time before the terrorists will use it to their advantage.
G K Mahadev, Altrincham, England

I am quite satisfied that the Pakistani Government is a responsible nuclear power. The scientist has accepted that he acted alone and bears all responsibility and has agreed to smash the underground network dealing in the transfer of WMD.
John, UK

I don't think that the Pakistan government did it in relation to war on terrorism
Imran Ali, Melbourne

I don't think that the Pakistan government did it in relation to war on terrorism. It's good, now nuclear countries must follow the same security measures what other nuclear states have done. This also proves that neither based on religious brotherhood nor friendship; a country should share such serious technical information.
Imran Ali, Melbourne, Australia

As long as the traditional nuclear powers (US, UK...) reserve themselves the right to maintain nuclear weapons while other countries can't, nuclear technology will continue to spread, and rightfully so. One country cannot claim to have more rights to nuclear weapons than others.
David Van Gool, Leuven, Belgium

One should assess all the facts before coming to a judgement. If you look back at Pakistan's program, it got the same kind of help from European countries. Similarly, how did Iraq get the chemical and biological weapons?
Awan, Canada

Mr Khan has been caught up in the middle of an atrocious inquiry. Obviously, Mr Musharraf has bowed down to US pressure, and decided to publicly humiliate the nation's hero. I now think that the general has had the last straw, he has taken it too far. Abdul Qadeer is a world renowned scientist, and his reputation has been put on the line. It is true that China also shared nuclear technology with Pakistan, but we don't hear any government outrage on this issue.
Goga Ali, London, UK

I can't imagine that the Pakistani Government were not aware of the actions of their top nuclear scientist. He must have been under close surveillance and protection for a number of years. However, it's better to find out late than never about the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Libya has already caved into US pressure, Iran can no longer deny that it has been working on a nuclear weapons project and we will know more about the capabilities of the North Koreans. The world isn't a safe place, but it's getting a little safer.
Anthony, Germany/UK


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