Beijing proved masterful at enabling Pyongyang to expand its program, and did the same for Pakistan. Now it’s Tehran’s turn.
Beijing began transferring technology, materials, and equipment to Pakistan as early as 1974. The initial aid may have been only in the form of “crude technology,” but it started a decades-long collaboration. In the early 1980s, just when its officials began to make responsible-sounding statements about nuclear proliferation, Beijing sent Islamabad plans for a nuclear warhead and enough enriched uranium for two weapons.
Beginning in 1994, the Chinese sold 5,000 ring magnets, used in gas centrifuges for enriching uranium, to the laboratory of the infamous Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. Beijing also appears to have provided nuclear test data, more modern warhead designs, and plutonium technology for which there are no peaceful uses. China may even have tested a Pakistani device on its soil. Chinese help was crucial, extensive, and continuous. “If you subtract Chinese assistance from the Pakistani nuclear weapons program, there is no program,” says Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.Sponsored Ads
Various countries, including Iran, then got access to “China’s bomb” when Dr. Khan began to merchandise Armageddon. And when Khan was caught a decade ago, Beijing, after ensuring he received a quick pardon from his own government, then employed two backup stratagems: It permitted the North Koreans to proliferate and, more significantly, took over Khan’s proliferant role directly. What once was indirect became direct as Beijing began transferring materials and equipment straight to Tehran.
In 66 years since independence, Pakistan’s per capita water availability has declined from 5,000 cubic metres to less than 1,500 cubic metres, according to a 2009 report. Currently Pakistan provides about 1,000 cubic metres of water per capita – about the same level as Ethiopia. At this rate of depletion, by 2025, Pakistan’s water shortfall could be five times the amount it can presently store in its reservoirs.
Given Pakistan’s scarcity of water and proclivity to blame others, a 2009 CIA report concluded that “the likelihood of conflict between India and Pakistan over shared river resources is expected to increase”.
The situation is scary, experts say. Kashmir — a divided territory that both India and Pakistan claim as their own — was the cause of two of the three wars the two countries have fought since they attained independence from Britain in 1947. Now both New Delhi and Islamabad control numerous nukes; Pakistan has the world’s fastest growing arsenal.
As the tit-for-tat bombardment continues, the shelling already marks the heaviest exchange since the ceasefire began in 2003, raising fears that the repeated violations will result in a complete breakdown of the truce. Signaling their concern about further escalation, both Washington and the UN have appealed for calm.
But which side is responsible for starting the fire? What is the endgame? And how far will the flames spread before cooler heads prevail?
Beijing’s propaganda portrays the vast and remote western region of Xinjiang as a harmonious land of colourful, mostly Muslim Uighur natives and hard-working migrants prospering under Communist Party rule.
But two incidents last week, one of which left 35 people dead, are only the latest spasms of violence to call into question that idealised vision.
China’s constitution proclaims that the country’s dozens of minority groups are an integral and equal part of the national tapestry, but analysts say a system of ethnic labelling – originally meant to promote minority rights – is fuelling unrest.
This is the first of two posts. The second, derived from the rules here, can be found here and includes our forecasts of global events for 2013.
The rules of global events
1. Muddle-along rule
On and off for several decades, knowing analysts have forecast state collapse for Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, and other nations. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have been said to be destined for economic ruin, and North Korea for the ash heap of history. Yet they have gone on—often with the help of the global community, but gone on they have. The lesson is that countries tend to muddle along regardless of the trouble, and not collapse.
2. Precipice rule
You can read our six geopolitical predictions for 2013 based on these rules.
Maybe I am wrong, and I hope so. And even if I am not, our country will certainly survive. But the world is at risk. I doubt that other countries will step up to stop Russia and China from exploiting the advantages they hold outside of negotiations while they talk endlessly inside negotiations. Russia is expanding its influence in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Iran, and, as the United States leaves, central Asia. China is doing the same in North Korea, the Taiwan Strait, Pakistan, and along the first island chain in the Pacific. Someone has to be there to limit their options.
Meanwhile, American allies are restless, especially Israel and Japan. They know that if America retreats, it will be a game changer in their respective regions. Yet Obama appears to be doing just that. He is playing it fast and loose on the diplomatic scene as the U.S. economy idles and military resources are withdrawn from around the world. The little light that pundits saw between Obama’s foreign policy and that of his opposition in the recent election is about to become a glaring gap, as America drifts and instability around the world increases.
And it’s not only in the missile arena that Iran and North Korea are cooperating: there is evidence of nuclear cooperation as well. As one proliferation expert has noted: “The centrifuge design that the North Koreans got from Pakistan is very similar to the one that the Iranians got, and so just as the two countries’ ballistic programs are based on common designs and can involve common work, you can easily imagine the same thing for the centrifuge program.”
Regardless of the flow of weapons of mass destruction, the underlying reality is that both Iran and North Korea are racing ahead with missile and nuclear programs that will give them the potential to strike not only regional neighbors but eventually, unless their designs are stopped, the United States itself. …
Pakistan may have transferred nuclear weapons to the chief bankroller of its development program, Saudi Arabia, as far back as 2004, according to a then-U.S. government official who received the revelation in a Pakistani intelligence briefing at the time, says a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
South Asia is going through what can be called the first bounce of the nuclear ball, an arms buildup. This is a time when Pakistan and India focus on acquiring fissile material and building weapons. This drives Pakistan’s plutonium mills and India’s commercial nuclear power deal with the United States.
The second bounce of the ball may be quite different than the first. For example, it may see intense crises and shocks – aggravated by the enlarged nuclear forces. So it would be a mistake to assume the current environment will be the environment of the future. Like the first nuclear age, the Cold War, there are likely to be ebbs and flows in competition, with different problems and shocks developing over time, interspaced with periods of relative calm.
Here’s the issue: A number of supposed allies of the United States don’t act as friends. In fact, they are major headaches, often subverting US goals and interests. But to avoid conflict and, for Obama, to look successful to the domestic audience, Washington pretends that everything is fine.
Consider, for example, Pakistan.
The scope of this problem becomes clear if you add to this list such places as Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Venezuela, Bolivia and several other countries in a similar situation.