Pakistan Purchases N. Korean Missiles; U.S. Sanctions Nuclear Company

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

Pakistan Purchases N. Korean Missiles; U.S. Sanctions Nuclear Company


Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Pakistan has purchased No Dong missiles from North Korea - fully assembled and ready to fly - prompting the Bush administration to impose sanctions on the Pakistani company in charge of the nation's nuclear weapons program.

U.S. officials, who disclosed the transfer to The Washington Times, said American-made C-130 aircraft were used to transport the missiles to Pakistan.

"This is a very serious matter," a senior administration official said. "We are not talking about missile technology or components but full-fledged No Dong missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons - and they used aircraft we gave them to bring the missiles home."

The nuclear-capable missiles have a range of up to 900 miles and can reach virtually every major Indian city.

A private Pakistani company, Kahn Research Laboratories (KRL), also known as Kahuta Research Laboratories, is the direct target of the sanctions. But U.S. officials said the transfer took place with the knowledge of the highest levels of the Pakistani government.

The penalties, which are to be published in the Federal Register as early as today, ban any business activities for two years between the U.S. government and KRL, which, according to the official, is primarily responsible for Pakistan's nuclear program.

Another official said the transfers occurred "during a period of time ending in August, and we've been in close contact with the Pakistani government since November, urging it to stop this behavior."

Earlier reports, including a CIA document obtained by The Washington Times last year, suggested North Korea's missile-related transfers to Pakistan included equipment, components, materials and technical expertise but not entire missiles.

Washington has also imposed two-year Category 1 missile sanctions against North Korea, through the state-owned Changgwang Sinyong Corp., under the congressional Arms Export Control Act, one official said.

"That has no huge practical impact because there is no trade between the United States and North Korea, but it's an important symbolic act that shows our focus on the North's proliferation behavior and also tells the buyers how serious we are about this," he said.

Because the end-user of the missile purchase cannot be sanctioned under the Arms Export Control Act, known as the missile law, the penalty against the Pakistani company was enacted by a State Department executive order signed last week by John Bolton, assistant secretary of state for arms control and international security.

While the Bush administration has discussed the issue with authorities in Islamabad, it has not approached North Korea about it, the official said.

A senior State Department official said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf about the sanctions in a telephone conversation Tuesday.

"The secretary said that we have to follow our laws, but our bilateral relationship remains strong," the official said. "I think the Pakistanis understand that we are doing what is necessary legally and that this is not a political step."

The Pakistani government has repeatedly denied any purchases from North Korea, but over the weekend it acknowledged that KRL has been sanctioned.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the sanctions are unjustified but it would not affect "our determination to pursue our indigenous missile program. …

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