External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has hit the nail on the head by demanding an investigation into North Korea’s nuclear proliferation linkages in what is being seen as a veiled reference to Pakistan. Her plea at a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Monday, on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session in New York that those involved must be held accountable is absolutely pertinent and must evoke appropriate action.
Swaraj’s remark has come days after North Korea fired a second mid-range inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) over Japan on Friday and Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in direct defiance of UN sanctions. Earlier last week, India and Japan had also made a veiled reference to Pakistan in a joint statement they released after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in which they had condemned North Korea’s nuclear programme as “a grave threat to global peace” and emphasised on holding “accountable all parties supporting the nation’s nuclear ambitions.” Significantly, the trilateral meeting in the US also discussed issues of maritime security ostensibly because of the Chinese moves for hegemony over international waters in the Indian Ocean with the objective of dominating trade routes.
In 2004, Pakistan’s most famous nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, had admitted to have transferred nuclear technology to North Korea and other nations, a confession that led to his detention for five years. The following year, TIME magazine quoted intelligence officials as saying that “Khan had sold North Korea much of the material needed to build a bomb, including high-speed centrifuges used to enrich uranium and the equipment required to manufacture more of them.” These unnerving revelations were reinforced yet again earlier this month by another Pakistani nuclear scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy.
There is therefore enough ground to investigate the North Korean nuclear link with Pakistan and for the US to declare Pakistan a rogue state if the reports are borne out. Considering that Pyongyang poses a recognisable threat to world peace and US President Trump in his first address to the UN went so far as to warn that he may be forced to “totally destroy” the rogue nation, Sushma Swaraj has made a vital point that must be duly followed up by the US and the world community at large.