Libya surrenders more nuclear materials to US
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Libya surrendered 55,000 pounds of nuclear equipment, including “critical materials related to Libya’s nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile capabilities”, which was put on a US plane that has already flown out of the Jamahariya to the US.
According to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, this was a sign of “real progress” since the Libyan leader, Col Moammar Gaddafi, promised on December 19 to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capability. This is the second planeload of equipment to leave Libya.
Allegations that some of the equipment may have been supplied by Pakistan, either officially or because of the “freelance” activities of some of its nuclear personnel, will gain strength in the days to come. The pressure on Pakistan to “come clean” has been intense and is bound to become even more intense, especially after President Musharraf’s statement at Davos and unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials “singing like birds” to Western media outlets.
Whether the purpose is to have Pakistan dismantle its programme down the road remains to be seen. What is certain is that a “cordon” has been drawn around the programme. Pakistan’s image is also in tatters, partly due to the inefficiency and lack of confidence of those abroad and at home who are in charge of protecting and upholding it.
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington has been absolutely quiet on the issue and while it may have made behind-the-scene efforts to introduce some balance into the onslaught directed at Pakistan, publicly it has taken no position at all. Similarly, Pakistani-American leaders who are known for making tall claims and delivering the entire US government, including the US Congress to Pakistan, have failed to come forward as well. Meanwhile, the media attacks on Pakistan have continued, helped in Pakistan by well-paid stringers working for foreign publications and often promoting their interests and those of their governments, rather than their own country’s.
Libya’s nuclear components are to be held at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory. The latest planeload contains centrifuge parts, some of the allegedly of Pakistani origin, used to process uranium hexafluoride.
Mr McClellan said the shipment also contained ballistic missile guidance sets for longer-range missiles, which Libya has voluntarily agreed to eliminate. He added that the destruction of Libya’s unfilled chemical munitions had already begun inside the country. “As the Libyan government takes these essential steps and demonstrates its seriousness, its good faith will be returned,” he added.