New York Times: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to press President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan for more information on the help a rogue Pakistani scientist, A. Q. Khan, is believed to have given Iran to develop a nuclear weapons program, a senior administration official said Tuesday. Speaking on the eve of talks that Ms. Rice plans to hold with Indian and Pakistani leaders on the first leg of her trip to Asia, the official said that Pakistan had been helpful in the past on sharing information from its own investigation of Dr. Khan, but that the administration wanted more. New York Times
By JOEL BRINKLEY and STEVEN R. WEISMAN
NEW DELHI – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to press President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan for more information on the help a rogue Pakistani scientist, A. Q. Khan, is believed to have given Iran to develop a nuclear weapons program, a senior administration official said Tuesday.
Speaking on the eve of talks that Ms. Rice plans to hold with Indian and Pakistani leaders on the first leg of her trip to Asia, the official said that Pakistan had been helpful in the past on sharing information from its own investigation of Dr. Khan, but that the administration wanted more.
“We have been getting good cooperation from the Pakistanis,” the official said when asked about the investigation into Iran. “They have been pursuing this. Of course we always want more. We always discuss nonproliferation with the Pakistanis. I am sure we will discuss it this time. I am sure A. Q. Kahn will come up.”
The official did not specify what sort of information the United States wanted. But there is heightened interest in what European and American officials have said was a document recently turned over to international investigators showing that Iran had discussed with Dr. Khan’s network the possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons technologies some 18 years ago.
A European diplomat said last month that the discussions had included an offer by Mr. Khan’s representatives to provide technologies that included the process of casting uranium metal, a critical step toward making a bomb.
Other administration officials say they have not been entirely satisfied that Pakistan has told the United States everything it knows about Dr. Khan’s dealings, and that Pakistan’s refusal to let American investigators talk with him has hampered their investigation.
Last month, Porter J. Goss, the director of central intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration was “further exploring our opportunities to learn about Mr. Khan and what he has done.” He said he was unable to give details in public but that “many new things” had recently been uncovered and that “we have found that in covering those things that we have not got to the end of the trail.”
Like other officials, Mr. Goss said he was satisfied with Pakistani cooperation, but he declined to provide details in a public setting, citing security and intelligence sensitivities.
The Bush administration has used a conciliatory approach toward Pakistan since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, choosing to overlook or play down irritants – like the lack of cooperation on the A.Q. Khan investigation and the slowness of General Musharraf to return his country to democracy – because of cooperation that Pakistan has extended in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. At the same time, however, mounting concerns about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons ambitions have sharpened the need to push Pakistan for more help in addressing that problem, administration officials say.
Another item on Ms. Rice’s agenda in India and Pakistan was likely to be the desire of both countries to buy jet fighter aircraft from the United States, Indian and Pakistani diplomats said.
The diplomats said the United States was considering a request by Pakistan for the sale of more F-16 fighters, dropping the ban on the sale of planes and spare parts imposed in 1990 and tightened in 1998, as a result of Pakistan’s development and subsequent testing of a nuclear weapon.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Ms. Rice was “expected to signal” an American “willingness” to sell jets to Pakistan and India, but the Indian and Pakistani officials said they had received no such indication, only that the United States was prepared to discuss the matter.
An aide traveling with Ms. Rice declined to discuss any specific military matters, other than to say that the security concerns of both countries would be discussed on her trip.
Pakistan purchased 40 F-16’s in the 1980’s, at a time when it was considered a frontline state against the Soviet Union and Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Since 1990, several planes have deteriorated and Pakistan now has about 32 planes operating, according to Brig. Gen. Shafqaat Ahmed, defense counselor in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.
Pakistan has asked for more planes and more spare parts periodically for many years, but in the past the United States did not want to do anything to encourage the military buildup between India and Pakistan. But now the United States is working cooperatively with India on several military fronts, including some joint training exercises, and may be more willing to consider the sale to Pakistan, General Ahmed said.
General Ahmed and the Indian official, who spoke on condition that he not be identified because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations, said that since both India and Pakistan now possessed missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, selling advance fighters that could deliver bombs was no longer considered destabilizing to the nuclear balance.
As well as India and Pakistan, Ms. Rice’s trip is taking her to Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea and China. A primary mission during the latter part of the tour is to talk over new strategies for persuading North Korea to rejoin the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. The Bush administration is heavily dependent on China, as North Korea’s only important ally, in its effort to restart the nuclear talks. But at the same time, China is agitating for renewed arms sales from Europe, something President Bush has made clear he opposes.
On her plane traveling to New Delhi, Ms. Rice said she hoped China’s law approved this week authorizing a military attack on Taiwan if the island moved toward independence would dissuade Europe from resuming its weapons sales. “I hope it will remind the Europeans that there are still tensions in the region,” she said, speaking to reporters on her plane. “It is not a time to end the embargo.”
European leaders say lifting the embargo, which was imposed in 1989 after China’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, would be an important way to improve business and political relations with China.
The parties to the disarmament talks have not met since June, and some experts say the negotiations are dead. On Tuesday, North Korea threatened to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, “to cope with the extremely hostile attempt of the U.S. to bring down” its government, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to the official KCNA news agency.
Asked about North Korea’s latest statement, Ms. Rice said Tuesday that she would not try to “get inside the psyche of the leaders in Pyongyang,” but added that the latest statement was intended to distract attention from the demands to return to the talks.
“I don’t think the North Koreans should be allowed to change the subject,” she said. Ms. Rice said the efforts of the last year had not been wasted. North Korea, she added, is even more isolated now than a year ago, and “the unity of message and purpose” among the nations involved in the talks “has been very clear.” The United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea are the other parties to the talks.
Joel Brinkley reported from New Delhi for this articleand Steven R. Weisman from Washington.