RIYADH, Feb 13: An Israeli daily Haaretz has raised anew the question of the Islamic bomb and chances of its proliferation.
In a report published on Friday, it recommends that in the light of new revelations, it's worth re-examining the rumours that Pakistani nuclear plans were carried out in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, which in the past, had funded part of the Pakistani nuclear project.
"The latest revelations show that Pakistan constitutes a potential threat that has to be kept under supervision, as India has been saying for some time," the paper added. The Israeli deputy premier was in New Delhi last week.
The daily says: "One has to be naive to the point of stupidity in order to believe that the Pakistan government did not know about the transfer of nuclear know-how to a number of countries, most of them Muslims, by Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
"This was a complex operation that went on for years and included extensive deals, the movement of equipment, training and managing hefty bank accounts. "Scientists, technicians and others worked with Khan. It is inconceivable that neither Pakistani intelligence nor the country's military had any knowledge of these operations."
The daily also revealed that some of the information, coming out in the wake of Dr Khan's confessions, was known in Israel, but it added that intelligence in Israel was taken by surprise by Malaysia's involvement in the manufacture of centrifuges for enriching uranium for countries that purchased the know-how from Pakistan.
The daily said it were the French inspectors who stated that the equipment at the Iran facility had come from Pakistan and that Pakistan had become a leading disseminator of nuclear know-how.
The article says that in Jan 1999, after the nuclear tests in Pakistan, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif promised that Pakistan would step up supervision of the export of nuclear technology. That promise was reiterated by Gen Musharraf. However, the paper added, Abdul Qadeer Khan recently offered a different explanation of his actions. He maintains that he planned it all so that the Muslim countries would be able to match the West.
The French are reassuring themselves by noting that the secrets were sold to a non-Muslim country as well (North Korea), though that should naturally be seen as the exception that proves the rule, it commented.
Concluding the report, the Israeli newspaper says that even if General Pervez Musharraf is a friend of the United States, no one knows who will succeed him. "Do the Americans know, for example, where the nuclear bombs in Pakistan are stored and who guards them.?
Islamist groups are becoming stronger in the country and are infiltrating the army as well. It's more than possible that the affair of Abdul Qadeer Khan was only the first act in a drama that is still being played out, the paper said.