Terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have become the most acute problems of international politics and are frequently discussed as a block. The world community has scored considerable successes in the fight against the WMD proliferation.
The threat of nuclear proliferation has been scaled down at the global and regional levels, largely thanks to the political-diplomatic methods, including quiet off-record negotiations. It was thanks to such negotiations with Libyan leader colonel Muammar Qadhafi that a breakthrough was achieved in understanding the hidden elements of WMD proliferation and Libya was convinced to withdraw from the process. The voluntary admissions made by the colonel and his subordinates resulted in the detainment of the BBC China ship that carried parts for the production of uranium enrichment centrifuges. Vital connections and proof of Pakistan's involvement were revealed. Libya's public renunciation of secret WMD proliferation deals came as a shock for its partners.
But the military operation in Iraq, launched without the UN sanction, weakened the moral factor of the political methods of forcing violators to abandon the most dangerous and advanced WMD programmes. Sadam Hussein destroyed thousands of innocent people but an attempt to make him a sponsor of terrorism failed.No WMDs were found in Iraq. The US administration may produce a dead cat from the sack before the presidential elections in a bid to impress the sensitive Americans. It continues the search for WMDs in Iraq, as deputy commander of the US occupation force in the country has admitted, though the large group of US military inspectors led by the experienced David Kay, who embarrassed the USA by saying there was no WMDs in Iraq, has been dissolved.
By overturning unsuitable tyrannical regimes, especially in the Islamic world, without broad assistance of the local population, the USA is doing a bad service to the world and to itself, because this paves the way to the strengthening of positions of terrorist and radical groups in these countries.
The US policy of double standards is also damaging the fight against WMD proliferation. Bent to liquidate the al-Qaeda leadership, and above all Osama bin Laden who is allegedly hiding in the mountains of North-West Pakistan, Washington closed its eyes to the aggressive WMD policy of Islamabad. Pakistan is forgiven everything because it has pledged to step up the struggle against terrorism.
Even when the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, was exposed as an irreconcilable advocate of nuclear proliferation, he escaped responsibility and was pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf. Moreover, Musharraf said harshly that under no conditions would international inspectors be allowed to visit the nuclear infrastructure facilities of his country. It was shortly after that that Pakistan tested a nuclear medium-range missile. Yet the country enjoys the standing of the vital ally of the USA.
Washington has done nothing to force the Pakistani authorities to restore order in the national system of export control of nuclear technologies and know how or encourage it to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The story of Abdul Khan and his accomplices is alarming also because of other shocking facts. It turned out that until recently he headed a broad international network that worked in the sphere of commercial proliferation of nuclear technologies and know how. While officially in the pay of the Pakistani government, Adbul Khan headed that network and was its chief businessman. He sold blueprints of uranium enrichment centrifuges. To increase his revenues, Abdul Khan used a business in Malaysia to produce key parts of the centrifuges. Other parts were bought in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
In other words, the Pakistani authorities, though they assured they monitored the situation, have lost control of nuclear technologies. Or did they make Abdul Khan the scapegoat? Anyway, the world has come across a fundamentally new phenomenon: the commercial proliferation of nuclear technologies and know how, owned by the state, by a group of persons who created a secret international network, a proliferation mechanism and industrial facilities for this purpose.
In view of the specific ideological and religious position of Abdul Khan and his accomplices, we cannot rule out the possibility that secret technologies and know how were "leaked" to terrorist groups and radical elements.
In the past two years, al-Qaeda sustained major losses and cannot effectively organise and co-ordinate the terrorist community. But large terrorist acts in Spain, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Moscow and other places show that even without the guiding role of al-Qaeda terrorist groups all over the world are bent to stage large-scale actions to claim as many innocent lives as possible. Terrorists have clearly become addicted to the pleasure of political and psychological pressure on the public and the ruling elite.
The growing fragmentation of the terrorist community is not a positive factor. We can assume that in the near future the world will suffer from even more ruthless actions staged by terrorist groups led by young and resolute men, who will use manufacturable and potentially highly destructive means of warfare, including some that will have elements of WMD technologies. Security services in many countries have registered the interests of terrorists in these technologies, including the so-called dirty bomb, bacteriological and chemical weapons delivered by unmanned vehicles, and so on.
The secret activity of such malicious and irresponsible technical geniuses as Abdul Khan paved the way in this direction. Leaders of radicals and extremists of all stripes can find volunteers among the thousands of specialists, scientists and students who are ready to work selflessly to create new weapons of terrorism and methods of attaining the criminal goals.
The priority task of the world community is to join forces in order to prevent the frightful symbiosis of terrorist groups and those who can provide them with novel WMD technologies and know how for raising the terrorist warfare to a new and much more dangerous level.
Lieutenant General Gennady Yevstafyev
Lt.-Gen. Gennady Yevstafyev (Rtd.), b. 1938, an independent expert on WMD proliferation, worked for the Soviet Foreign Ministry and was special assistant to the UN Secretary General in 1981-1985. From 1986 to 1991, he was on the leadership of the Soviet delegation at the CFE talks in Vienna. He worked for a long time in the Foreign Intelligence Service, and headed the department for disarmament and WMD non-proliferation. From 2000 to 2003, he worked in the Russian office at NATO and monitored issues of terrorism and WMD proliferation. He is the author of several publications on disarmament and WMD non-proliferation and co-author of the report of the Foreign Intelligence Service, "New Challenges After the Cold War."