Wednesday, February 13, 2013

India sees Pakistani hand in North Korea’s nuclear test

By Indrani Bagchi & Sachin Parashar, TNN | Feb 13, 2013, 12.42 AM IST
India sees Pakistani hand in North Korea’s nuclear test
A computer monitor displays data on a recorded seismic activity originating from North Korea at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology-Department of Science and Technology office in Manila on February 12, 2013. A defiant North Korea on Tuesday staged its most powerful nuclear test yet and warned of 'stronger' action to follow if the ensuing wave of global condemnation translated into tougher sanctions.

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday officially protested against the third nuclear test by North Korea which it sees as evidence of a clandestine proliferation network from Pakistan. Indian sources stressed that if the test was found to have been conducted with enriched uranium, it would confirm Pakistani "proliferation linkages". 

Criticizing North Korea for violating international commitments, New Delhi asked Pyongyang "to refrain from such actions which adversely impact on peace and stability in the region". Sources said the test revealed significantly improved technical capabilities of the North Koreans, which in itself suggested heightened proliferation activities. 

"If the speculation is correct that the test was carried out through enriched uranium, it would demonstrate cascading and clandestine proliferation linkages,'' a source said. After the test on Tuesday, North Korea also announced that its nuclear capabilities had diversified, fuelling more speculation that enriched uraniumwas used for the test. 

KCNA, North Korea's official news agency, said, "It was confirmed that the nuclear test that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment." 

South Korea recorded seismic activity compatible with a six-seven kiloton explosion. If this is confirmed, North Korea, officials said, could be well on its way to building a functional nuclear warhead, though its delivery systems may take a while to develop. 

"When you talk about any nuclear test conducted by North Korea, the role of Pakistan can never be far behind,'' a source said. 

Pakistan on Tuesday yet again blocked moves to facilitate negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament. Official sources said both developments were inter-related. 

Pakistan had transferred the technology for enriching uranium to weapon grade in exchange for the knowhow for missile development from the Communist dictatorship as part of a deal negotiated by Benazir Bhutto and Kim Jong-il

Pakistan has prevented negotiations for FMCT citing asymmetry with India in its fissile material stockpile. In its nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009, North Korea used plutonium and it was only in 2010 that it was revealed that the country had a sophisticated uranium enrichment programme. The existence of North Korea's Yongbyon centrifuge plant used for enriching uranium became public in 2010, when Pyongyang allowed foreign experts to visit the facility. 

Separately, the Indian assessment of the nuclear test is that it's a failure of Chinese foreign policy. The Pyongyang account has been the responsibility of Beijing, but China has failed to restrain North Korea both from going steadily down the nuclear path or persuading it to come to the negotiating table at the six-party talks. 

The test puts Beijing in an unenviable position. It has already supported fresh sanctions by the UN Security Council, which has piled them on North Korea. Beijing could support further sanctions, or it could take unilateral action against Pyongyang. Both ways, it risks ruining ties with one of its closest allies. 

Beijing-Pyongyang ties have been strained of late, In fact, last week, the Chinese government used the Global Times to warn North Korea. In an editorial, it said, "If North Korea insists on a third nuclear test despite attempts to dissuade it, it must pay a heavy price. The assistance it will be able to receive from China should be reduced. The Chinese government should make this clear beforehand to shatter any illusions Pyongyang may have." 

The test prompted the UN Security Council to call for an emergency meeting later on Tuesday. It is also expected to figure in US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

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