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US allowed Pak to acquire N-tech, kept Cong in dark

world Updated: Jun 16, 2009 23:47 IST

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The US allowed Pakistan to manufacture and acquire nuclear weapons without informing the Congress, a non-profit corruption watchdog said, quoting a whistleblower who was fired for objecting it.

A CIA and Pentagon official, who tried to object to this policy of the then US administration of keeping the Congress in dark on this issue, was fired.

“As a CIA intelligence officer and later in the Pentagon, Rich Barlow learned that top US officials were allowing Pakistan to manufacture and possess nuclear weapons,” Danielle Brian, executive director, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), told a Congressional hearing last week.

Washington-based POGO is a non-profit, non-partisan watchdog that works with whistleblowers and government insiders to expose corruption, fraud and abuse of power.

“Barlow also discovered that US officials were hiding these activities from Congress,” Brian told US lawmakers in her testimony during a hearing.

“Barlow objected and suggested to his supervisors that Congress should be made aware of the situation... He was fired,” said Brian in her testimony.

“Barlow is now destitute and living in a trailer,” she said as she went on to give other examples of the fate of the whistleblowers in the US government.

An investigative story published by UK’s The Guardian newspaper in 2007 had said: “In the late 1980s, in the course of tracking down smugglers of WMD components, Barlow uncovered reams of material that related to Pakistan”.

According to the newspaper, Barley soon discovered that senior officials in government “were breaking US and international non-proliferation protocols to shelter Pakistan’s ambitions and even sell it banned WMD technology”.

This was done because in the closing years of the cold war, Pakistan was considered to have great strategic importance, it said.

“We had to buddy-up to regimes we didn’t see eye-to-eye with, but I could not believe we would actually give Pakistan the bomb,” Barlow was quoted as saying.

He next discovered that Pentagon was preparing to sell Pakistan jet fighters that could be used to drop a nuclear bomb and came to the conclusion that a small group of senior officials was physically aiding Pakistan’s programme, it said.

“They were issuing scores of approvals for the Pakistan embassy in Washington to export hi-tech equipment that was critical for their nuclear bomb programme and that the US Commerce Department had refused to license,” he said.

“He (Barlow) prepared briefs for Dick Cheney, when Cheney was at Pentagon, for the upper echelons of the CIA and even for the Oval Office. But when he uncovered a political scandal — a conspiracy to enable a rogue nation to get the nuclear bomb — he found himself a marked man,” the paper said.