Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for October 18th, 2007

Pakistan Update: Bombs Blast During Bhutto’s Arrival

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Celebration turns to carnage as twins blasted went off near a truck carrying former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

From the Associated Press:

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Two explosions went off Thursday night near a truck carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her celebratory return to Pakistan after eight years in exile. Police and party workers said Bhutto was unhurt, but an official said there were at least 30 people killed and 100 wounded.

An Associated Press photographer at the scene said he saw between 50 and 60 dead or badly wounded people. He said some of the bodies were ripped apart.

The Times of India reports:

Militants linked to Al-Qaida, angered by Bhutto’s support for the United States war on terrorism, had threatened to assassinate her.

Bhutto returned to lead her Pakistan People’s Party into national elections meant to return the country to civilian rule.

Soon after arriving Bhutto, boarded the truck designed to withstand a blast in case of attack. Dressed in a green kameez, a loose tunic, her head covered by a white scarf, Bhutto had stood in plain view on top of the vehicle, ignoring police advice to stay behind its bullet proof glass, as it edged through crowds waving the red, black and green tricolour of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Some 20,000 security personnel were deployed to provide protection.

This grisly episode illustrates such how treacherous any political progress in Pakistan can be.

Posted in Bhutto, bombing, Pakistan | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Putin’s Nuclear Proposal To Iran

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Why were Putin and Ahmadinejad smiling so much? 

Could it have been owing to a break through on Iran’s nuclear program? 

The Associated Press reports on this nuclear speculation:

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unspecified proposal about Iran’s nuclear program at a private meeting with the country’s supreme leader during a brief trip to Tehran, Iran’s state news agency said Wednesday.

Russian officials could not immediately be reached to verify the report and the Iranian news agency provided no details on what Putin had proposed.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all government matters, said Iran will give Putin’s proposal serious thought before giving a response, the news agency said.

“We will ponder your words and proposal,” IRNA quoted Khamenei as saying.

But before getting excited, remember that Russia has tried this before. CNN.com reports on a 2005 Putin proposal that Iran shot down

Moscow had offered to enrich uranium in Russia for nuclear fuel and have it sent to Iran. The offer was backed by the United States and by Britain, France, and Germany, which have tried to negotiate a solution to the Iranian issue.

Posted in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran, Nuclear, nuclear proposal, Putin | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Egypt Protests Eroding EU Support for Middle East Nuclear Free Zone

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

While Iran and North Korea nuclear ambitions dominate Western headlines, Israel’s undeclared-but-known nuclear weapons (aka ‘nuclear ambiguity) is a substantial hurdle to stemming Middle East nuclear proliferation. 

EU and aspiring EU members have backed off in their support for proclaiming a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. 

The reason? No, not Iran—but Israel. 

Whether one considers Israel’s nuclear forces justified or not, any long-term nonproliferation effort demand that Israel’s (along with India and Pakistan) nuclear status be declared and incorporated into international agreements on nuclear technology (i.e. the IAEA and NPT). 

From the Associated Press

European nations at past general conferences of the International Atomic Energy Agency have voted in favor of establishing a zone free of such arms. But at last month’s session, 25 of the 27 EU nations abstained as did other countries hoping to join the union. In all, 47 nations abstained. 

… 

This year, Israel and the United States opposed two paragraphs — one calling all nations in the Middle East “not to develop, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons,” the other urging nuclear weapons states to “refrain from any action” hindering the establishment of a Mideast zone free of nuclear weapons. Both passages were clearly aimed at Israel, which is thought to have nuclear weapons.

The vote prompted the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to send letters of protest to abstaining European nations. 

Arabnews.com describes the irritation experienced by Middle Eastern owing to the West’s tacit endorsement of Israel’s nuclear weapons—complicating nonproliferation efforts in this critical region.

However, the Egyptian and Syrian ambassadors yesterday signaled that their patience was wearing thin. “The fact that many UN and IAEA resolutions with regard to Israel’s nuclear capabilities are not carried out increases the frustration of the Arab peoples and threatens an arms race that could also threaten the peace and security of the region and the world,” said Othman.

He complained that Israel was the only country in the Middle East “to have nuclear weapons and nuclear capabilities which are not under international control.” It was, therefore, a legitimate concern “to ask Israel to join the other countries in the NPT” (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), Othman said.

Posted in Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt, IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel, Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bhutto Returns to Pakistan

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Benazir BhuttoI’m watching WETA-carried BBC News World coverage of Bhutto arriving at Karachi airport. Elated supporters cheer while waiting for Bhutto.

Bhutto’s return is being called the beginning of Pakistani parliamentary elections, by BBC News reporter Barabara Plett. But it’s unclear if she even be able to run for Prime Minister.

And let’s not forget the need for open and fair elections.

BBC World’s coverage seems to be lacking in one respect: Between Bhutto advisor Rehmen Chishti and BBC reporter Barbara Plett, where are the questions about the past failure of paraliamentary politics in Pakistan?

Husain Haqqani’s Between Mosque and Military portrays Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto as weak, bickering leaders—unable to effectively govern the nation.

Instead BBC’s news-anchor keeps hammering Bhutto and Chishti about the constitutionality of the deal Bhutto and Musharraf made to guarantee the former prime minister’s return. The anchor continuously reprimands the deal as undermining the rule of law in Pakistan.

The line of critique, while not unfounded, misses the point: In a country like Pakistan, where constitutional manipulation has been a Musharraf norm, it would be virtually impossible for any political progress to occur without constitutional revision.

Here are two clips on Bhutto’s return.

From AFP:

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home to Pakistan after eight years in exile, defying warnings of an assassination by Al-Qaeda and vowing to restore democracy in her homeland.

Before her plane left Dubai, carrying her back from exile for the second time in a long political career, at least a quarter-million people thronged the streets of Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi to welcome her home.

She headed back to Pakistan after military president Pervez Musharraf agreed to drop corruption charges against her, hoping her immense popularity can help him cling to power in the face of mounting popular anger over his rule.

From the Telegraph:

The power-sharing agreement between Ms Bhutto and Gen Musharraf is reported to be based on an “understanding” but so far the only tangible facet of the deal has been a presidential ordinance scrapping corruption charges against the former prime minister and Mr Zardari.

Pakistan‘s supreme court is yet to rule on whether the ordinance is legal. The judiciary has also yet to rule on whether Gen Musharraf’s re-election as president while serving as army chief earlier this month was constitutional.

Most Pakistanis believe that the “marriage” between the general and the “Daughter of the East” will not last long.

Posted in Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »