How Bad Is Bush's Failure in Pakistan? It's Absolute

This post, written by Cliff Schecter, originally appeared on Cliff Schecter's Brave New Films Blog

This from The Washington Post:
For nearly four years, under the banner of the "war on terror," Bush has refused to demand access to Khan, the ultranationalist Pakistani scientist who created a vast network that has spread nuclear know-how to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Indeed, Bush has never seriously squeezed Musharraf over Khan, who remains a national hero for bringing Pakistan the Promethean fire it can use to compete with its nuclear-armed nemesis, India. Khan has remained under house arrest in Islamabad since 2004, outside the reach of the CIA and investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency, who are desperate to unlock the secrets he carries. Bush should be equally adamant about getting to the bottom of Khan's activities.
Bush's sluggishness over Pakistan-based proliferation, even as he has funneled about $10 billion in military and financial aid to Musharraf since Sept. 11, 2001, is even harder to explain when one considers the damage Khan has done to the world's fragile nuclear stability. Khan used stolen technology and black-market sales to help Pakistan obtain its nuclear arsenal, setting the stage for a possible atomic showdown with India. He played a pivotal role in helping Iran start what we increasingly fear is a clandestine nuclear-arms program, allowing Tehran to make significant progress in the shadows before its efforts were uncovered in 2002. He gave key uranium-enrichment technology to North Korea. And if all this weren't enough, he was busily outfitting Libya with a full bomb-making factory when his network was finally shut down in late 2003. Khan has been held incommunicado ever since, leaving the world with new nuclear flashpoints -- and some burning, unanswered questions about his black-market spree.
The most urgent line of inquiry -- particularly given Bush's bellicose statements about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions -- centers on what exactly Khan provided to the Iranians over 15 years of doing business with them. He could help answer the questions on which war may depend: Is Iran trying to get the bomb? If so, how close is Tehran to obtaining it? Or are the mullahs simply pursuing a civilian nuclear capacity?

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