New Delhi, Nov. 26: India today demanded a thorough investigation into reports of a secret missile and nuclear weapons-related barter between North Korea and Pakistan, saying the deal had serious security implications for the country.
National security adviser Brajesh Mishra leaves for Washington early next month to meet US counterpart Condoleezza Rice and other senior officials of the Bush administration.
America’s views on the liaisons of its close ally with North Korea — one of the three countries in the “axis of evil” — will be sought in the talks.
Mishra’s meetings in Washington are scheduled for December 8 and 9. Around the same time, US deputy national security adviser Steve Hadley will be in Delhi, giving India another chance to bring up the issue.
The spurt in reports on the Pakistan-North Korea deal in the American media has deeply embarrassed the Bush administration, which is considering imposing sanctions on Islamabad if it continues to cooperate with Pyongyang.
“I have made it clear to him (Pervez Musharraf) that any sort of contact between Pakistan and North Korea we believe would be improper, inappropriate and would have consequences,” US secretary of state Colin Powell was quoted as saying in Washington.
But what is worrying for New Delhi is the seriousness with which Powell appears to have taken the Pakistan President’s assurance that such cooperation with North Korea was a thing of the past.
“How reliable is the assurance given by Musharraf' And if the reports are true, can the US have confidence in him as an ally'” a senior South Block official asked.
These are questions that the Indian leadership plans to raise with Washington.
Foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna today said: “Continued linkages between the two countries (Pakistan and North Korea) should be a matter of serious concern to the international community.”
“Though these linkages go back to the 1990s, they seem to have become stronger as was demonstrated by the interception of one shipment by India,” he added.
The spokesman said: “It is not enough that accounts of such clandestine activity remain confined to newspaper reports, however well-informed. Because of the grave nature of these reports and the implication for international security, the facts need to be properly investigated.”