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China secretly helping Pak’s missile programme: US lawmakers

world Updated: Apr 29, 2016 21:30 IST
HT Correspondent
Pak’s missile programme

Pakistani army soldiers travel on a vehicle carrying cruise missile Ra'ad during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2016. (AFP)

Two US lawmakers have asked the Obama administration if China provided Pakistan the massive 16-wheel vehicle that carry Pakistan’s newly unveiled medium-range nuclear missiles.

If yes, would it be in violation of any US or UN-mandated laws and sanctions, which would attract punitive action from America, the lawmakers asked, in a letter sent earlier this week.

Read the full letter here.

Pakistan unveiled its new 2,750-km medium range nuclear ballistic missile Shaheen III in March, rolling it out on a 16-wheel vehicle called the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL).

It looked very much like the one China gave North Korea, Mike Rogers and Ted Poe, the lawmakers, said in their letter, citing an American expert on Chinese military technology.

Richard Fisher, the expert, pointed to the “design similarities between the Shaheen III TEL, the Sanjiang Special Vehicle Corporation of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) WS51200 TEL, and Chinese provided TEL North Korea’s new KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile”.

“This led him to conclude, ‘CASIC has again enabled a Pakistani nuclear capability’,” the lawmakers added.

In the letter, addressed to secretary of state John Kerry, defence secretary Ash Carter and director of national intelligence James Clapper, the lawmakers said this kind of transfer of technology would have to have been approved at the highest level in China, “if not also the People’s Liberation Army”.

And this kind of cooperation between China and Pakistan, they said, “would represent a threat to the national security of the United States and its allies.

The lawmakers, both Republicans who head powerful congressional bodies — Poe is chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism and proliferation and Rogers heads subcommittee on strategy forces — wanted to know from the administration if it knew about the transfer.

They asked what the US was doing to stop China from transferring this technology to Pakistan, and make it take back the TEL Pakistan is brazenly displaying as part of its arsenal.

They wanted to know if there is any other evidence the Chinese supporting Pakistan’s ballistic missile or nuclear weapons programmes, and whether this road-mobile delivery system for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons changes the security posture of the US, Israel and other allies.