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REAL WMD THREAT: From Pakistan or Iraq?

Paper no. 909             29. 01. 2004

by B.Raman

In continuation of my earlier article of January 27, 2004,on "Pakistan & Dangers of Nuclear Jihad" at, I am giving below for ready reference extracts from my past writings on the subject.  What has been stated below is more authentic and reliable than the reports about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) holdings on the basis of which Iraq was invaded by the coalition troops led by the US and the Saddam Hussein regime deposed on the ground that it posed a threat to international peace and security:

Pages 49-50 of my book of 2001 titled "Intelligence: Past, Present & Future" published by the Lancer Publishers And Distributors, 56 Gautam Nagar, New Delhi--110049. E-Mail:  :

Quote Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM): Responsible for covert actions in other parts of the world and for the clandestine procurement of nuclear and missile technologies. Maj Gen (retd) Sultan Habib, an operative of this Division, who had distinguished himself in the clandestine procurement and theft of nuclear material while posted as the Defence Attache in the Pakistani Embassy in Moscow from 1991 to 93, with concurrent accreditation to the Central Asian Republics (CARs), Poland and Czechoslovakia, has recently been posted as Ambassador to North Korea to oversee the clandestine nuclear and missile co-operation between North Korea and Pakistan.  After completing his tenure in Moscow, he had co-ordinated the clandestine shipping of missiles from North Korea, the training of Pakistani experts in the missile production and testing facilities of North Korea and the training of North Korean scientists in the nuclear establishments of Pakistan through Capt. (retd) Shafquat Cheema, Third Secretary and acting head of mission, in the Pakistani Embassy in North Korea, from 1992 to 96.  Before Maj.Gen. Sultan Habib's transfer to ISI headquarters from Moscow, the North Korean missile and nuclear co-operation project was handled by Maj.Gen.Shujjat from the Baluch Regiment, who worked in the clandestine procurement division of the ISI for five years.  On Capt.Cheema's return to headquarters in 1996, the ISI discovered that in addition to acting as the liaison officer of the ISI with the nuclear and missile establishments in North Korea, he was also earning money from the Iranian and the Iraqi intelligence by helping them in their clandestine nuclear and missile technology and material procurement not only from North Korea, but also from Russia and the CARs. On coming to know of the ISI enquiry into his clandestine assistance to Iran and Iraq, he fled to Xinjiang and sought political asylum there, but the Chinese arrested him and handed him over to the ISI.  What happened to him subsequently is not known.  Capt.Cheema initially got into the ISI and got himself posted to the Pakistani Embassy in North Korea with the help of Col.(retd) Ghulam Sarwar Cheema of the PPP. Unquote

Pages 137-138 of the same book as mentioned above

Quote The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) of Pakistan is based structurally on the continental European model, with most of its officers from the Armed Forces, but, operationally, it has been using the Chinese technique of adopting the commercial cover for its overseas operations, in addition to the diplomatic cover.  It has floated a large number of commercial firms abroad, either through its own retired officers, or through non-resident Pakistanis (NRPs) and home-based Pakistani businessmen enjoying its confidence. This technique played a significant role in its successful clandestine acquisition of nuclear and missile technology and equipment from the USA, Canada, West Europe and North Korea.  Amongst the companies and banks, which had allegedly been associated with its clandestine overseas procurement, were the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), founded by Mr.Agha Hasan Abedi, which collapsed in 1991, and the Gulf Shipping Group, based in Geneva, founded by Mr.Abbas Gokal and his brother, which also collapsed the same year.  Mr.Abbas Gokal was jailed by a British court in April 1997, on a charge of cheating in connection with the BCCI collapse.  The ISI and Pakistan's Military Intelligence Directorate extensively used the BCCI for providing cover to their officers and for funding clandestine procurement of nuclear and missile technologies and equipment.  The Gulf Shipping Group was used for the transport of the secretly procured equipment.  The Army Welfare Trust (AWT), which was started in the 1970s by the ISI, has become one of Pakistan's most active business groups.  Amongst the projects controlled by it are a housing and land development scheme, a sugar factory, a shoe factory, a woollen garments factory and a glass factory.  It also controlled the Aksari Commercial Bank and was planning to expand its business activities to cement and pharmaceuticals. It had also been permitted by the Government to go into joint venture partnerships with foreign companies and was planning joint ventures for the manufacture of helicopters and Land Rovers. Amongst other organisations controlled by the ISI are the Fauji Foundation, which has set up factories for the manufacture of fertilisers and chemicals and the Shaheen Foundation, which controlled the private Shaheen Airlines.  It had also been permitted by the Government to start a satellite TV channel. Unquote

From my paper of May 6, 2002, titled "CONTROL OF TRANSNATIONAL Crime & WAR AGAINST TERRORISM: An Indian Perspective" ( )

Quote Though the laws of Pakistan do not provide for "economic citizenships", the Pakistan Government informally provides them to international criminals and terrorists, who maintain a minimum dollar deposit in Pakistani banks and help the Government.  Dawood Ibrahim, who had reportedly lent money to Pakistan in the past for the clandestine procurement of missiles and connected technology from China and North Korea, has been given informal "economic citizenship" in order to protect him from the arms of the Indian law and provided with a Pakistani passport under a different name. Unquote

From my paper of April 7, 2003, titled "THE PAKISTANI-NORTH KOREAN WMD AXIS"   ( This was also published by the "Indian Defence Review" (January-March,2003) of the Lancer Publishers And Distributors of New Delhi mentioned above )

Quote Pakistan’s arms supply relationship with North Korea  dates back to 1971 when the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the then Foreign Minister under the late Gen. Yahya Khan, visited Pyongyang  and sought North Korean arms supplies to strengthen the Pakistani Armed Forces in the face of a looming war with India.  Pakistan then did not have diplomatic relations with North Korea.  However, the visit led to the signing of an agreement on September 18,1971, 10 weeks before the outbreak of the war with India, for  the supply of  North Korean-made conventional weapons to Pakistan. Under another agreement signed the same day, the two countries agreed to set up mutual consular relations, which were upgraded to full-fledged diplomatic relations on November 9,1972.

13. Under the agreement of September 18,1971, Pakistan received from North Korea, in return for payment in US dollars, many shipments of items such as rocket launchers, ammunition etc.  In the 1980s, Pakistan also acted as an intermediary in facilitating arms supply agreements concluded by Pyongyang with Libya and Iran.  During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, North Korea became a principal supplier of weapons to Iran, which was the target of an arms embargo imposed by the Western countries.  To escape detection by the Western intelligence agencies, North Korean arms shipments meant for Iran used to be received by sea at Karachi and from there transported in Pakistani trucks to Iran across Balochistan.  Amongst the supplies made by North Korea to Iran via Karachi were over 100  Scud  B (known as the Hwasong 5 in North Korea) ballistic missiles and equipment for  the  assembly, maintenance and ultimate production  of these missiles in Iranian territory.

14. In this transaction, Pakistan played a double game.  On the one hand, the then ruling military regime of the late Zia-ul-Haq collaborated with the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Iraqi intelligence in destabilisation operations directed at the Sunni Balochis living on the Iranian side of the border.  At the same time, it clandestinely allowed the transport by road of North Korean arms and ammunition meant for use by the Iranian Army against the Iraqis.  Pakistani army officers were also sent to Libya to help in the training of Libyan Army officers in the use and maintenance of North Korean weaponry.

15. During the Zia regime, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its North Korean counterpart collaborated closely for the clandestine acquisition of nuclear and missile-related equipment and technology from the then West Germany and other Western countries.  Since North Korea did not have either a presence or the funds and other capability to be able to indulge in clandestine procurement from the West, it gave lists of its requirements to the ISI, which procured them and passed them on.

16.This co-operation between the two countries, the foundation for which was laid by Z. A.Bhutto, was further strengthened during the two tenures of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister (1988-90 and 1993-96).  It was during this time that Pakistan failed in its efforts to develop an indigenous missile production capability (the Hatf series) and it sought Chinese and North Korean supplies of missiles as well as technology for their production in Pakistan.  During her second tenure, Benazir visited Pyongyang during which the scope of the arms supply agreement concluded when her father was the Foreign Minister was expanded to include co-operation in the nuclear and missile fields---including the training of the scientists and engineers of the KRL (Kahuta Research Laboratories) in North Korea, the training of North Korean scientists and engineers in the Pakistani uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta and the supply of the No-Dong missiles and the related technology to Pakistan.

17. Earlier, during the first tenure (1990-93) of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, the Director-General of the ISI, visited Pyongyang to sign a secret agreement with the North Korean intelligence for the joint  production through  reverse engineering  of the US-made, shoulder-fired Stinger missiles and their batteries.  Some of the missiles in the stock of the Pakistani army were given to the North Korean intelligence for this purpose.  The Iranian intelligence agreed to fund this project. It is not known whether this project succeeded in producing an imitated version of the Stingers and their batteries.  The ISI was particularly interested in the batteries because it was unable to use a large number of Stinger missiles in its stocks since the life-period of the batteries supplied by the USA before 1988 to enable the use of these missiles against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan had expired.

18.Throughout the 1990s, whoever was at the helm in Islamabad, the trilateral co-operation involving Pakistan, Iran and North Korea in the development and production of the Scud—C (called Hwasong 6 in North Korea) and the No-Dong missiles continued without interruption despite Teheran’s anger against Pakistan for backing the Taliban and for failing to prevent the periodic massacre of Pakistani Shias and Iranian nationals by the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba, Pakistan, and its militant wing, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ).

19. During 1992, when Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister, a team of Pakistani scientists and engineers had visited North Korea’s missile development centre, reportedly for a joint examination of some technical problems encountered by North Korea in the development of the No-Dong.  The same year also saw a visit by Kim Yong-nam, the then North Korean Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, to Syria, Iran and Pakistan in July-August.  Pakistani  and Iranian scientists and engineers visited North Korea in May,1993, to witness the launching of one No-Dong  and three Scud missiles (model not known).

20.The visit of Benazir to Beijing and Pyongyang in December,1993, was followed by the visits of a number of North Korean personalities to Pakistan in 1994-95  to discuss bilateral nuclear and missile co-operation.  Important amongst these visits were: 

* During April,1994, Pak Chung-kuk, deputy to the Supreme People's Assembly, visited  Iran and Pakistan at the head of a team of officials of the North Korean Foreign Ministry and the nuclear and missile establishment.

* During  September,1994, Choe Hui-chong, Chairman of the State Commission of Science and Technology, visited Pakistan at the head of a team of North Korean nuclear and missile experts.

* During November 1995, a delegation of North Korean military officers and nuclear and missile experts headed  by Choe Kwang,Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Minister of the People's Armed Forces, and Marshal of the Korean People's Army, visited Pakistan. The delegation met senior officials of the Armed Forces and visited Pakistan’s nuclear and missile establishments, including the KRL The team included senior officials of  the Fouth Machine Industry Bureau of the Second Economic Committee and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation ( also known as the  North Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation).  During the visit, the KRL and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation signed an agreement for the supply to Pakistan of the No-Dong missiles as well as fuel tanks and rocket engines. The agreement also provided for the stationing of North Korean missile experts in the KRL for the training of their Pakistani counterparts in the use and maintenance of the  missiles supplied by North Korea and for the supply and development of  mobile erector  launchers for the missiles. 

21.These visits contributed to the speeding up of  Pakistan’s missile programme and culminated in the firing of the so-called  Ghauri missile by the KRL on April 6,1998, which was projected by Pakistan as its own indigenously-developed missile.  Despite this, the US State Department imposed two-year sanctions against the KRL and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation on April 24, 1998, which expired on April 23, 2000. The KRL had earlier been the subject of similar sanctions imposed by the State Department in August 1993 for its clandestine procurement of  the M-11 missiles from China.

22.Thus, the sanctions imposed on March 24, 2003, are the third against the KRL. These sanctions have had no effect either on Pakistan or North Korea.  The KRL and the North Korean Corporation are State-owned entities, run and managed by officers of the Armed Forces of the two countries.  Pakistan had used a US-supplied aircraft of its Air Force for transporting the missiles to Pakistan. The missiles and other weapons sent by North Korea to Iran in the 1980s had transited through Pakistani territory, escorted by the Pakistan Army.  Pakistan and North Korea have a joint project for the reverse engineering of the US-made Stingers.  North Korean nuclear scientists witnessed Pakistan’s Chagai nuclear tests of May,1998.  Pakistan has been helping North Korea in the development of its uranium enrichment facility. The two countries have been training each other’s nuclear and missile scientists in their respective establishments.  In return for the North Korean assistance, Pakistan had diverted to North Korea wheat purchased from the USA and Australia and had been paying it from its huge dollar reserves built up after 9/11, thereby enabling Pyongyang to withstand the economic boycott by the West. To hoodwink the US intelligence, Pakistan had got transported some of the Chinese as well as North Korean missiles by road via the Karakoram Highway.  Pakistan's diplomatic mission in Pyongyang is generally headed and staffed by serving or retired army officers, who had previously served in the clandestine nuclear and missile procurement set-up of the ISI. The latest instance in this regard is Maj.Gen. (retd) Fazle Ghafoor.

23. In spite of all this, for the US to pretend as if  the repeated violations of nuclear and missile related regulations by Pakistan  were the misdeeds of  errant individual entities for which the State cannot be held responsible shows the extent to which it is prepared to close its eyes to what Pakistan has been doing.  If there is one country in the world which has been systematically violating with impunity all regulations relating to nuclear and missile proliferation and from which there is a real danger of leakage of  weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related technologies to pan-Islamic terrorists, that is Pakistan. The US double standards in this matter  are evident from the alacrity and vigour with which it has acted against Iraq despite the lack of any credible evidence against it and the care with which it protects the regime in Pakistan, despite all the evidence available against it.Unquote.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Advisory Committee, Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter. E-Mail: )