Memo To: Bush Cabinet
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Listen to Gordon Prather
Yes, I know you are up to your ears in intelligence services, but when you have too many cooks, you spoil the broth. I’ve told a number of you, in person or by e-mail, from the first of the year, that you should bring Dr. Gordon Prather into the government and as problems of science, technology or national security arise, you should get his point of view. When we speak of informed opinion to the nth degree, it is with someone like Prather. When I asked him yesterday what he thought about the air disaster at JFK, he said it appeared possible that terrorists could use a Stinger missile to bring down the commercial jet. Dr. Prather, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for science and technology in the Reagan administration, is not often wrong when it comes to the interface between weapons of mass destruction of all kinds and global politics. There is nobody like him in the government. Here is a long piece he wrote last week, which he tried to get published without success. It may not amount to something you will wish to act upon, but I believe it will help narrow your focus as you struggle to deal with the diabolical forces coming at you every hour of every day.
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Nation-States, Terrorists and an Islamic Nuke
By James Gordon Prather
Can it conceivably be true -- as DEBKA-NET-weekly recently reported -- that Presidents Bush and Putin agreed just days after the terrorist attacks of September 11 to the deployment of U.S. tactical nukes at former Soviet bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan? Well, it is true that U.S. war hawks have been demanding since September 11 that we “take out” both Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, using nukes if necessary. But there is no reason to suppose that either bin Laden or Saddam had nukes on September 11. So there could have been no justification whatsoever for a U.S.-Russian preemptive nuke strike against bin Laden just days later.
In any case, if President Bush had wanted to launch tactical nuke strikes against bin Laden in his tent, we more easily could have deployed -- without asking Putin's consent -- our tactical nukes on U.S. warships now off the coast of Pakistan. And if we wanted to nuke bin Laden in his deep underground bunker, then we would have used our B61 Mod 11 'bunker-killer' nuke, which can only be delivered by the B-2 bomber, flying from U.S. bases. So if we did ask -- and got Russian permission -- to launch US nuke attacks from former Soviet bases, why?
Well, one explanation could be that Presidents Bush and Putin were sending a not-so-subtle message to bin Laden, to the ruling Taliban of Afghanistan, to the government of the sovereign nation-state of Pakistan, and to the 55 other members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC], which includes Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The message? No Pakistani nukes are to get loose!
If that was the message, it seems to have gotten through to President Musharraf of Pakistan, if not to the OIC. There are reports that the “father of the Islamic Bomb,” Dr. A.Q. Khan, and two of his top aides have been 'detained' by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate [ISI] at the suggestion of our FBI. Our FBI reportedly told the ISI that Khan et al. were preparing to smuggle nuke materials and technology -- if not actual nukes -- to the Taliban, which Pakistan recognizes as the legitimate government of the nation-state of Afghanistan. The ISI, which itself, has close ties to the Taliban, approximates the rogue elephant our CIA was once thought to be.
Why are we and the Russians so concerned about the Pakistani nukes? Because the world is arguably nearer nuclear war right now than it ever has been. Why is the situation so much more dangerous now than at the time of the Gulf War? Thereby hangs a tale. You see, it was a Clinton-Gore article of faith that the 21st Century would see the end of the nation-state. Believing that, Clinton-Gore proceeded to hand over to the United Nations -- the presumptive world government for the 21st Century -- every semi-international problem that arose, including gun control and women's reproductive rights. They decided to rid the world of nukes, starting with ours, and turning over the enforcement of even nuke disarmament to the UN. Upon the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, Soviet President Gorbachev had decided they didn't need -- and couldn't afford to keep -- tens of thousands of Soviet nukes. Soviet officials actually came to our Congress and asked for our help in getting rid of them. Senators Nunn, Lugar and Domenici immediately realized that Soviet low-yield tactical nukes were exactly what terrorists and rogue states would try to beg, borrow or steal. So Congress authorized Bush the Elder to provide such financial and technical assistance to the Russian nation-state as they would accept to prevent the proliferation of nukes, nuke materials, technologies and technologists.
It needs to be emphasized over and over that the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici programs were never intended to be disarmament programs. They were strictly intended to help the Russians keep all those Soviet nukes from getting into the hands of rogue states or terrorists. The Russians did not intend, then or now, to completely disarm and we accepted that.
Nevertheless, the incoming Clinton-Gore Administration seized on the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici programs -- as well as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] and the just negotiated Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT] -- as levers to advance their cause of global nuke disarmament via the United Nations. Recall that [a] arms-control, [b] non-proliferation and [c] disarmament are each very different animals. Especially when it comes to nukes.
Most of those treaties you heard about during the Cold War -- SALT, START, ABM, whatever -- were arms-control agreements, which placed limitations on the numbers of certain kinds of arms each side could have. And, until Clinton-Gore came to power, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1972 was about nothing other than preventing the acquisition by hook or crook of nukes by those NPT signatories who did not already have nukes. For example, Iraq -- as a NPT signatory -- had the right to acquire all the nuclear technology available, much of it ‘dual use.’ But inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] were supposed to see to it that Iraq never tried to use that nuclear technology to develop a nuke.
However, there is this Article VI of the NPT -- largely ignored until Clinton-Gore came to power -- that says something about the 'declared' nuke states agreeing to someday seriously consider getting rid of all our nukes, too. So, soon after taking office, President Clinton began to pledge at UN Conference after UN Conference that he would comply with Article VI, now, rather than someday. He began the unilateral and irreversible subjection of our "excess" nuke materials and nuke infrastructure to the same NPT-IAEA inspection regime that has been applied to Iraq since the Gulf War.
Using many hundreds of millions of dollars of Nunn-Lugar-Domenici funds as a carrot, Clinton even got the Russians to follow suit. At the 40th General Conference of the IAEA in 1997, Director General Hans Blix announced the U.S.-IAEA-Russia Trilateral Agreement, hyped as an important step towards the US and Russia meeting NPT nuke "disarmament obligations." Each side would dispose of -- under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors -- 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, recovered from thousands of U.S. and Soviet dismantled nukes.
Next, Clinton-Gore planned to get every nation-state on earth to sign the CTBT, the enforcement of which would be entrusted to the UN. The basic idea (since full-scale tests of new nuke designs were generally considered absolutely necessary) was that without testing, nation-states such as Pakistan -- which had not then tested its nuke designs -- could never develop nuke stockpiles. Neither could nation-states such as India -- which had tested some of its nuke designs -- upgrade their designs or test actual nukes.
Although President Clinton told Congress that our weapons labs could maintain the integrity of our stockpile without testing, the rest of the world was led to believe that -- without full-scale testing -- the reliability of existing nuke stock-piles would soon be so suspect, that all nuke nation-states would soon be effectively disarmed. So, consider the nation-states at the beginning of the Clinton-Gore Administration that were presumed to have nukes, but had never signed the NPT. There was, of course, Israel. Then there was the People's Republic of China, which tested its first nuke designs in 1964. India, which borders on the PRC and felt threatened, began developing its own nukes, testing several nuke designs, if not actual weapons, in 1974. Thereupon Pakistan, which borders on India and felt threatened, began developing its own nukes, and was reportedly ready to test its designs by 1990.
India and Pakistan had fought three all-out wars since becoming separate nation-states in 1947. But in 1990, India and OIC-member Pakistan avoided all-out war, appearing to embrace the Cold War concept of "nuclear deterrence," even though many -- perhaps most -- of their nukes had never been tested. Then, Clinton-Gore came stumbling onto the South Asia scene, pressuring both India and Pakistan to sign the CTBT. A report got back to Congress that Clinton-Gore had even offered to set up U.S.-Indian and U.S.-Pakistani cooperative ''stockpile stewardship" programs, by which the integrity of their existing stock-piles could be maintained -- like ours -- without testing, using supercomputers we would supply them. Whether true or not, in 1997 Congress angrily prohibited in law any such cooperative nuke programs with any nation-state -- exempting only the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici programs with Russia.
Perhaps thinking that they would never ever get a chance to show each other and the rest of the world what their nuke capabilities actually were, in 1998, first India and then Pakistan each proceeded to conduct a whole series of nuke tests of designs and actual weapons. These nuke tests by nation-states who had never been NPT signatories in the first place dealt a devastating blow to the Clinton-Gore master plan for universal nuke disarmament through the UN NPT and CTBT. Good riddance to that, but look at the mess Clinton-Gore left in South Asia for President Bush when it came time to fight the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan.
You see, by staying outside the IAEA-NPT regime, Pakistan -- alone among the OIC nation-states -- had developed an indigenous, state-of-the-art nuke weapons capability, including weapons-grade uranium enrichment plants, plutonium, tritium and heavy-water production facilities, and all other resources and facilities necessary for producing state-of-the art fission nukes. The world as its witness, Pakistan had, thereby, managed to deter all-out war with India.
So what if Pakistan, a poor country, decides to export to other Islamic states (some of which are extremely wealthy) its entire indigenously developed nuclear capabilities, most of which are 'dual-use'? Suppose Iraq, for example, now decides to withdraw from the NPT-IAEA regime and buy whatever Pakistan will sell them? Within ten years or so, Iraq could have quite a nuke stockpile. Or, worse still, what if the government of the nation-state of Pakistan is overthrown next week by Taliban-like Islamic fanatics and some of the two or three dozen nukes known to be in the Pakistani nuke stockpile somehow find their way into the hands of bin Laden in neighboring Afghanistan? If that were to happen, even India would likely launch a preemptive nuke strike.
The Pakistani nuke establishment was placed under control of the Army by Pervez Musharraf - then and now Commanding General of the Pakistani Army -- when he proclaimed himself President back in 1999. Worse, the ISI, responsible for safeguarding and securing the Pakistani nuke establishment and stockpile, is known to have trained and supplied many of those who fought against the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s and those who fight, now, for the Taliban and with Osama bin Laden.
So, maybe the DEBKA Weekly report was correct. Maybe Bush and Putin have decided to show India, Pakistan and the OIC that we mean business by forward deploying U.S. nukes on Russian bases on the Afghanistan border. That ought to get anyone's attention, the two nuke super-powers working hand-in-glove. Maybe, next, we propose some kind of Nunn-Lugar-Domenici 'loose nuke' program for the Pakistan nation-state, providing them -- just as we earlier provided the Russians -- all the assistance they are willing to accept to prevent the proliferation of nukes, nuke materials, technologies and technologists. However, in providing that assistance, we must not re-make the mistake Clinton-Gore made, attempting to transform such assistance programs into 'stealth' disarmament programs. Just as it ought to have been inconceivable that the Russians would get rid of all their nukes, it is inconceivable that Pakistan is going to get rid of the Islamic Bomb.
Meanwhile, we'll do our best to kill Osama bin Laden. But not by nuking bunkers in Afghanistan. In fact, we should not bomb any sovereign nation-state we suspect of harboring terrorists without seeking the full cooperation and support of that nation-state. President Bush has declared war on terrorists, not on nation-states afflicted by terrorists. After all, we have unwittingly been afflicted by Islamic terrorists for years now ourselves. And then there was Timothy McVeigh – decorated for valor in the Gulf War against Iraq, wasn't he?