Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

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Iran Will Follow North Korea, Part II

The possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of non-state entities like Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda is very real as most of the new nuclear powers are either already under the control of such absolutist and religious fascist regimes (North Korea and Iran) or are likely to be run by religious fanatics in near future who have close relationships with the terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Japanese Red Army, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the United Wa State Army and their ilk. Being undemocratic, unstable, and poor they are usually dependent on mechanisms that do not bode well for the regional and global stability. 
As these countries, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are inherently incoherent and suffer from internal strife and contradictions. Their civil and military institutions are always susceptible to sabotage and subversive activities which makes it more likely that one day their nuclear assets may fall into the hands of such elements that are sympathetic to one or the other extremist or terrorist network. These internal difficulties make it impossible for these countries to have an adequate system to safeguard their nuclear materials and weapons.  
The ongoing insurgency in Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan and the most recent coup attempt by Islamists belonging to Pakistan Air force has underlined these inherent weaknesses. Often it is only one man that stands between false stability and a certain chaos in countries like Pakistan and Egypt. And generally it is only a matter of time before a Khomeini or a terrorist group like Hamas succeeds in toppling the tin soldiers on which the free world has historically been putting all of its bets. 
 Regimes that lack popular support always maintain direct or indirect relations and contacts with regional and international terrorist groups and networks like Al-Qaeda and Japanese Red Army. These outfits are committed to acquire nuclear weapons of one kind or the other for the advancement of their terrorist goals. 

Al-Qaeda, according to an exhaustive review of documents discovered in 2004 in Afghanistan, was building a serious weapons program with a heavy emphasis on developing a nuclear device. “I don’t have any doubt that al Qaeda was pursuing nuclear, biological and chemical warfare capabilities. It’s not our judgment at the moment that they were that far along, but I have no doubt that they were seeking to do so,” U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton had told CNN. “It underlines just how serious the threat of the use of these weapons of mass destruction could be, and why it’s such an important part of the global campaign against terrorism.” [Ref 1]

North Korea, Pakistan and Iran all have been working with Al-Qaeda at different levels. Al-Qaeda is known to have penetrated in all the branches of Pakistan’s armed forces and enjoys an undisputed popularity among the masses in the Islamic republic. That’s why many experts believe that Al-Qaeda will one day have its hands on the nuclear material. The fear is that Al-Qaeda may succeed in acquiring discarded nuclear power plant fuel rods to make a dirty bomb (Radiological dispersal weapon) much sooner than expected. A dirty bomb, according to experts, would not create a nuclear explosion, but instead would blow radioactive debris over a wide area, rendering it uninhabitable. [Ref 2]

Pakistan, which has helped in the creation of Al-Qaeda and Taliban, is the best example of how an undemocratic and poor state can use it’s newly acquired nuclear know how and armament industry to get funds and other military technology. In 1990 when the United States of America suspended it’s military and humanitarian assistance to Pakistan after a decade long close economic and military relationship, Islamabad felt cheated and deemed it justified to sell it’s nuclear know how and other military hard and software to other countries.

Quarters close to the Pakistan’s military and civil establishment know for a fact that it was not just the greedy scientists but country’s military establishment itself that traded its nuclear know how and even the equipment to make nuclear weapons for money, missiles and missile technology to countries like North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Being isolated, impoverished, and hard pressed for cash, Pyongyang too has used its ballistic missiles, conventional weapons, nuclear technology and even know how as a cash crop. Since the early 1990s, when its economy collapsed, North Korea has pursued trade with such states as Angola, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Syria as its only means of earning hard currency. Most of the trade involves arms, chemical and biological weapons materials, and even ballistic missile technology.
More than a dozen countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East have bought the military goods from Pyongyang. The communist regime has sold components that could be part of biological or chemical weapons. And experts have no doubt that it will sell its nuclear weapons also to any interested party. “The North Korean regime is willing to sell anything that makes money,” warns a former high-ranking North Korean official who defected to South Korea. “If they could produce enough plutonium and uranium to sell, there is absolutely no doubt they would do it.” [Ref 3]
North Korea has been on the U.S. Department of State’s list of states supporting international terrorism since 1988, following the 1987 bombing of a South Korean airliner by North Korean agents that killed over a hundred people. According to the U.S. State Department’s annual Pattern of Global Terrorism report for 2000, North Korea has links with terror organizations, has sold arms to these groups directly and indirectly, and continues to harbor several Red Army hijackers of a Japanese Airlines flight en route to North Korea in the 1970s.

The State Department’s 1999 report stated that North Korea had links with Osama bin Laden. North has sold weapons to such terrorist groups as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the United Wa State Army, a drug-trafficking group active in the Burmese sector of the golden triangle (Laos, Burma, and Thailand).In addition to supplying terrorist organizations, North Koreans have been seen training in the terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who confessed in 2004 to running an illegal nuclear market, had close connections with North Korea, trading in equipment, facilitating international deals for components and swapping nuclear know-how. Former CIA Director George Tenet testified before Congress that North Korea had shown a willingness “to sell complete systems and components” for missile programs that have allowed other governments to acquire longer-range missiles.
And then there is the question of whether these countries are capable of putting in place a system of adequate control over their nuclear assets. The disintegration of the Soviet Empire has already brought the world face to face with the specter of rampant nuclear proliferation, fueled by leakages of fissile material from increasingly insecure stockpiles. “Indeed, thefts of nuclear and radioactive materials, propelled by deteriorating economic and security conditions in the nuclear complex have surged in the former Soviet Union since the early 1990s. Most incidents of nuclear theft and smuggling have been militarily innocuous, involving radioactive junk (such as low-grade uranium, cesium-137 or cobalt-60) that is useless in making fissile weapons. However, some 15 to 20 seizures of weapons-usable plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU) have been recorded internationally in the past decade, and U.S. policymakers must contemplate the possibility that—as with other illegally traded commodities—what was seized is only a small fraction of what has been circulated through smuggling channels.  
In view of these developments the world will have to devote its time and energies to come up with some mechanism to prevent the falling of these nuclear weapons into the hands of non-state entities like Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. The new generation of nuclear powers, for sure, neither do posses a sufficient knowledge or expertise to be able to prevent an even a partial breakdown of command and control systems that protect nuclear weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials. Some of these states like Pakistan, North Korea and Iran will even have an interest in sharing their nuclear resources with other states for short term monetary and strategic gains. 
Some of the nations that need to be concerned about this development are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Israel.  
As far as Israel is concerned the North Korean test has brought Iran - a country that has made no secrets of its commitment to destroy the Jewish state – many steps closer to have its own weapon of mass destruction. Iran knows just like North Korea knew that the U.S. and its allies cannot do anything to prevent it from crossing the nuclear threshold except issuing threats. India and Pakistan had proved before and North Korea has confirmed now that empty threats cannot deter any outlaw state from obtaining the bomb.
In fact Iran has many more reasons to be fearless in pursuing its agenda. It is not as isolated as the communist regime in Pyongyang is and it has the resources to carryout its agenda. It is financially strong, scientifically advanced and politically much more ambitious than North Korea. North Korea’s entry into the coveted nuclear club is in fact manna from heaven for Tehran. And Iran’s entry into the nuclear club will indirectly arm the terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas with the dreaded weapons of mass destruction.
Tehran desperately needs the nuclear status. Its dream of becoming a regional super power and an undisputed leader of the Muslim world is hinged on it. To outmaneuver its Arab competitors like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, it has to prove to the Muslim street that it has the means to wipe the Jewish state off the world map - its declared plan.
Pakistan, along with North Korea, will play a very critical role in helping Tehran acquire the bomb. No body can deny that what has been detonated in North Korea is based on the drawings provided by Pakistan and the new gained experience will now reach Tehran. Pyongyang and Tehran have already been working very closely on the building of a nuclear delivery system and the construction of deep underground concrete bunkers. It is a common knowledge that North Koreans have supplied to Tehran launching platforms which could reach Europe and certainly Israel.  
According to an Associated Press report, Israel’s cabinet minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the North Korean test could indirectly increase the threat to Israel. According to APP, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, said the widespread concern sparked by the North Korean test could motivate the world body to take a tougher stand on Iran. “My feeling is that this test and the international climate of opinion may gives us some hope that also on the Iranian issue we shall see more determined activity by the Security Council,” he told Israel’s Channel 2 TV. “The world to a large extent understands what is happening today with North Korea and its nuclear activity; what Iran is about to do could be much worse, much more frightening and much more dangerous.” 
Iran understands that in view of the North Korean test, the world will be more determined to stop it from reaching its nuclear goal. And it has planned its moves accordingly. It has already launched a propaganda campaign in the Muslim world to convince the Muslim masses that the U.S. efforts to prevent it from gaining nuclear capability are driven by its anti-Islam crusade and a policy of empowering Israel.  
Mullahs in Tehran are also trying to exploit the wide spread and growing anti Americanism in the Muslim world to ward off the free world’s anti-nuclear moves by casting them as a crusade against Islam. To cash on the Muslim anti-Semitism, Iran is following a policy of projecting all U.S. anti-proliferation actions as moves to strengthen Israel’s position viz a viz its Arab neighbors. Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander said in May, 2006, that Israel would be Iran’s first retaliatory target if attacked by the United States. “We have announced that whenever America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel,” Dehghani said.  
Addressing a wider audience of world wide anti-Semites and traditional anti-Americans, Gholam-Hossein Elham, an Iranian government spokesperson said that “the dismantling of nuclear arms in the Middle East must begin with the Zionist entity.” Elham said the ban to use weapons of mass destruction should be imposed globally. “A just balance would remove these (nuclear) threats, and the conquering regime from Jerusalem should be the first in the region to disarm,” he said.  
Most of Iran’s military preparations in the recent past have been directed at Israel like for instance its Shahab-3 ballistic missile which is now operational and can reach Israel. At the time of declaring the missile operational, Iran’s Defense Minister Ali Shamkhrani had claimed that Iran was now “ready to confront all regional (Israeli) and extra-regional (American) threats.” 
But the world will have to realize, sooner or later that Iran is an existential threat to the whole civilized world and not just to Israel. It will have to act now before it is too late.


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