Iran Asked Pak Army for Nuclear Bomb in 1990
Many interesting pieces of information are contained within an Associated Press article today. In an interview with the former Pakistani Army Chief of Staff, Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, he discusses several instances of advising the Iranians on nuclear matters, including recently advising them to threaten retaliation against Israel if the US attacks its nuclear facilities.
Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg said he suggested their government “make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it - it doesn’t matter who it is or how it is attacked - that Iran’s answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel.”
That is precisely what IRGC commander Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani did last week.
This is the tactic that Beg said he used while Pakistan was developing a nuclear weapon: He warned that any (US or Israeli) attack on Pakistani facilities would be retaliated against by attacking India.
But the most interesting piece of information Beg, who is no friend of America, disclosed was that Iran approached him in 1990 and asked not for nuclear technology, but for a nuclear bomb.
In the AP interview, Beg detailed nearly 20 years of Iranian approaches to obtain conventional arms and then technology for nuclear weapons. He described an Iranian visit in 1990, when he was army chief of staff.
“They didn’t want the technology. They asked: ‘Can we have a bomb?’ My answer was: By all means you can have it but you must make it yourself. Nobody gave it to us.”
What Beg’s motives are for speaking about this is anyone’s guess. However, it is worth noting here that Beg stands accused of being involved in AQ Kahn’s proliferation network, which supplied Iran with its primary nuclear technology.
This flies in the face of every mention of peaceful nuclear power by the Iranian regime. General Beg’s account, it should be mentioned, is nearly impossible to prove or disprove. However, there is nearly nothing that suggests Iran’s assertion of peaceful power plants holds merit, while the preponderance of the evidence suggests a nuclear arms program, including decades of clandestine activity, purchasing technology from a nuclear bomb maker, underground fortified facilities, razing the Lavizan facility when an IAEA inspection is requested, cutting down trees in research areas to remove traces left behind on the leaves….the list goes on.
Consider also the next bit of advice General Beg recently gave to the Iranians while advising them to retaliate against Israel for any strikes.
He said he also advised them to “attempt to degrade the defense systems of Israel,” harass it through the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, and put second-strike nuclear weapons on submarines.
Very interesting advice, considering it was within the past weeks. Perhaps it was long term advice, as putting ‘second strike’ nuclear weapons on submarines assumes a ‘first strike’ capability. And there is good reason for it, as there is not much mystery as to what will happen should Iran launch a first strike on Israel.
But the point is that Beg, intimately familiar with the Iranian program, makes no argument about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He knows precisely what the Iranian ambition is.
The article concludes with another account of Iranian approaches to Pakistan for nuclear assistance, this time from the former Pakistani ambassador to Iran.
Another angle on these early contacts comes from Tanvir Ahmed, Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran from 1987-1989. He said he had a rare meeting with Iran’s nuclear inner circle in January 1988.
“It was the only time I was allowed in the inner sanctum of the nuclear discussions. I was asked to a lunch. … they wanted to know whether Pakistan would help them on the nuclear side. They never said they wanted nuclear weapons. They said they wanted to master the nuclear cycle,” Ahmed recalled.
Ahmed said he told them it was unlikely, but promised to relay the request to Zia. He said Zia told him: “You gave them the right answer.”
It should also be noted that this conversation took place at least a year before the Iranians asked the Pakistani Army Chief of Staff directly for a weapon, according to his own account.