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November 2, 2001

SOUTH ASIA: DOES THE U.S. PLAN TO TAKE OUT PAKISTAN'S 'ISLAMIC' BOMB?

South Asian editorialists were seized with several nuclear-related issues in the final days of October. Secretary Rumsfeld's reiteration on CNN of the U.S. policy of not forswearing the use of nuclear weapons generated a few misguided articles in the Pakistani and Indian press about planned nuclear strikes on Afghanistan, but First World journalists didn't indulge in the same misinterpretation. Most damaging to coalition solidarity was Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article positing the U.S. seizure of Pakistan's atomic arsenal in the event of an anti-Musharraf coup. Pakistani observers bristled at this and at Indian press reports that Islamabad had handed Pak nuclear experts over to the CIA for questioning about links with al-Qaida. Papers in Egypt, the West Bank and Tunisia treated the stories as consistent with the assumed American (and Israeli) fear of Pakistan's "Islamic" bomb. Some Indian editorials implied that the world had woken up late to the danger of atomic weapons being in Islamabad's hands.

Denuclearizing Pakistan: The New Yorker story fed into an established editorial theme that "America has more targets in mind besides...the Taliban and Usama, and Pakistan's nuclear program is one of them." Since mid-September, many Pakistani writers have expressed resentment that Washington's pursuit of Usama bin Laden had thrown their nation into domestic turmoil. Editorialists were concerned that this civil unrest would serve merely as an American pretext for denuclearizing Pakistan, because, according to one writer, even "a stable nuclear Islamic state is a problem for America." The issue resonated in Mideast Arab papers as well. They seized upon the New Yorker's contention that Israel provided training to the U.S. team slated to go to Pakistan. Warming to the "double standards" theme, a Tunisian writer asked: "Are the Islamic countries not allowed to have their atomic bomb after all?" It reminded readers that: "Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear warheads and develops...its nuclear capacities with the endorsement of the West."

Some Indians fear nuclear recklessness...from both Pakistan and the U.S.: Notwithstanding the Indian defense minister's public remarks testifying to the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets, several Indian writers took seriously the threats posed by the perceived vulnerability of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and expertise. The centrist Pioneer asserted: "No time...should be wasted in waiting for the situation in Pakistan to turn worse. India must...put in place a contingency plan to counter...the possibility of nuclear sabotage...in neighboring Pakistan." Surprisingly, a number of Indian editorialists joined their Pak colleagues in thinking that Secretary Rumsfeld's formulaic remarks about the use of nuclear weapons was a signal that the U.S. might use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan. One writer at the centrist Times Of India, seeing signs of "unprecedented brinkmanship" on President Bush's part, cautioned him not to "combine ham-handedness with nuclear misadventure."

EDITOR: Stephen Thibeault

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 42 reports from 12 countries, October 27-November 2. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.

SOUTH ASIA

PAKISTAN: Media Treatment

Notable Headlines: On 11/2 sensationalist Khabrain urged "Do Not Hand Over 8 Nuclear Scientists, Nuclear Records or Mianwali Airbase to the U.S., Demands Pak-Afghan Jihad Council," news story in the sensationalist Urdu daily "Khabrain"; On 11/1 these headlines ran: Sensationalist Ummat, "FBI interrogating Pakistan's Nuclear Scientist"; Sensationalist Khabrain, "Cooperation Against Terrorism Has Yielded the Desired Four Results: National Security, Safeguard of Nuclear Assets and Kashmir Cause, and Revival of Economy: Musharraf"

"U.S. State Department's Rebuttal"

Pro-Muslim League Pakistan observed (11/1): "The rebuttal by U.S. State Department officials of the New Yorker's, 'inflammatory' report about Pakistan's nuclear installations is a good omen. It will certainly help in removing doubts. However, a rebuttal from an unnamed official is not enough. Hersh's report is so inflammatory that its rebuttal should come at a regular briefing of the Department of State or some other high official should issue a refuting statement in this respect.... The American administration should not leave any ambiguity vis-a-vis this report."

"Danger To Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons"

Lt. Col. (Retd) Ghulam Jillani Khan wrote in pro-Muslim League Pakistan (11/1): "In short we can say that this report (in the New Yorker) was aimed at five objectives. 1: Incite the Pakistan public against the military leadership . 2: Encourage 10-15 percent of the population that has been demonstrating against General Musharraf's post-September 11 decisions. 3: Create unrest in the Pak Army to drive the junior military leadership, already angry over American bombing of innocent Afghans, against the military leadership. 4: to create dissension in the community of Pakistan's nuclear scientists.... 5: To create a myth of American and Israeli commandos' professional superiority."

"Nuclear Scientists' Arrest"

Farhat Ullah Babar (former PM Benazir Bhutto's press secretary) opined in the second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (11/1): "These news reports are cause for great concern; they have bolstered the fears of government critics that America has more targets in mind besides Afghanistan, Taliban and Usama, and Pakistan's nuclear program is also one of them. God forbid if the scientists are handed over to America, since during the course of interrogation, America might say that they have revealed all the secrets of our nuclear program and that it now has the evidence that nuclear weapons were supplied to Usama.... May God prove these fears wrong and unfounded. However, in the evolving scenario, there appears to be an encirclement around our strategic assets."

"Would Our Sacrifice Stop Bombing?"

Mustanzar Javed reasoned in leading, mass-circulation Jang (11/1): "If Qazi Hussain Ahmad or Fazalur Rahman were given the government, would the United States stop its bombing of Afghanistan? Would the coalition change its policy against terrorism?... It seems that some semi-religious and semi-political parties are pushing things to a stage where they might even come in direct confrontation with the Army. This will give Western powers a chance to ask Pakistan to abandon its nuclear program.... Why should we sacrifice everything for an Arab soldier and the Taliban?"

"Welcome Assurance For Holding Of Elections On Schedule"

Second-largest, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt stressed (11/1): "The general, while he reconsiders his policy (of cooperation with America), he should hold general elections to pave the way for the transfer of power. The general elections are a better option than installing a national government comprised of bogus people. It is not appropriate to wait one year for the elections. The instability he (General Musharraf) and Pakistan see in view of the U.S. statements could be countered through elections; the nuclear program could also be protected this way."

"Reflection Of U.S. Aspirations In The Mirror Of U.K."

Sensationalist Ummat opined (11/1): "The more forcefully the government states that its nuclear assets are in secure hands, followed by verifications from our enemies like the United States and India, the more doubts creep up in the minds of the people of Pakistan. The United States and Israel are not at all ready to live with Pakistan's nuclear capabilities. It is their most important objective to destroy Pakistan and to eliminate the Jihad sentiments from the hearts of the Muslims."

"Pakistan Must Come First"

Shireen M. Mazari noted in the centrist, national News (11/1): "Pakistan seems to be under pressure not only from the negative fallout of the continuing U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, but also from forces within the country who seem to be having the dubious agenda of undermining the state itself. The negative fallout from the U.S. bombing campaign is not surprising since the political viability of the continuation of this bombing is becoming increasingly questionable. Worse still, the use of cluster bombs and the impending threat that chemical and perhaps even nuclear weapons may be used, means that the war against terrorism is itself wreaking terror on an increasing number of Afghan civilians."

"U.S. Concern Over Pakistan's Military Capabilities"

Karachi-based, pro-Taliban Islam contended (10/31): "Despite cooperating with the United States, our nuclear capabilities and installations are under constant threat. Why is this so? Pakistan is the first Islamic and the seventh country in the world to have acquired a nuclear capability. This is a constant source of concern to the United States. The infidels never want to see Muslims progress and want to keep them away from latest developments by hatching various conspiracies."

"Plan Of Nuclear Dacoity [Banditry]"

Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic Jasarat (10/31): "The United States is also concerned about the demonstrations being held against President Musharraf's military government. On their part, American and other Western leaders are visiting Pakistan to express their support and cooperation to the military government. But they do feel in their heart of hearts that the Musharraf government could be toppled at any time because they do not trust the Pakistan establishment. There is no denying the fact that Pakistan's nuclear capability is not at all acceptable to the United States and it would not miss an opportunity to destroy it."

"American Plan To Take Over Pakistani Nuclear Weapons"

An editorial in the second largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (10/31): "The New Yorker has disclosed in a special report that America and Israel have planned a takeover of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.... In fact, a stable nuclear Islamic state is a problem for America as it is for India.... The Jihad in Kashmir is being described as terrorism while the American magazine has revealed a U.S.-Israel plan against Pakistan's nuclear weapons.... So now General Musharraf

should talk frankly with America. He should admit the weakness of his policies and put his strategy before the nation, so that the country's nuclear program, the guarantee for its security, be protected with the nation's practical cooperation."

"Mr. President! Don't Ever Do This"

Pro-Muslim League Pakistan editorialized (10/31): "News is making the rounds that Pakistan's eminent nuclear scientist Sultan Bashirud Din Mehmud and some of his co-workers are being handed over to America for investigation.... We still don't believe that the government of a daring commando like Pervez Musharraf could do such a deed. We pray that the news is proven wrong and Sultan Bashir and his co-workers are released by the time this goes to print. But if that does not happen, then remember Mr. President, the people of Pakistan will not tolerate such an action.... Mr. President, don't let it happen!"

"President Pervez, Nuclear Installations And America"

Pro-Muslim League Pakistan (10/31): "Be it America or anyone else, they should remember that countries depend on their systems and institutions, people at the helm of affairs come and go. Pakistan's politicians protected the country's nuclear program very responsibly and none of the political parties demonstrated any carelessness in this respect. If people like Vajpayee and Advani can fulfill nuclear program responsibilities, how could the sin of doubting Pakistan's political and defense institutions be committed?"

"Alarm Bell"

Ataur Rehman wrote in pro-Muslim League Pakistan (10/31): "The report (published in the New Yorker) has rung the alarm bell. Keeping the report in perspective, will we be asked tomorrow to make a choice between Pakistan and its nuclear program? And once again we will raise the slogan, "Sub Say Pahley Pakistan" (Pakistan First)."

Media Treatment

Notable Headlines (10/30): Second largest Urdu daily, Nawa-e-Waqt reported "America Should not Think about Nuclear Strike: Pakistan", "Possibility of Limited Nuclear Attack on Afghanistan: America"; Pro-Muslim League Pakistan headlined "America Wants to Sabotage Our Atomic Program and Launch A Nuclear Attack on Afghanistan: Bashirud Din Mahmood's Statement"; Sensationalist Khabrain ran "Nuclear Scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmud Might be Handed Over to the U.S., Fears Family"; "American, Israeli Commandos Ready to Take Control of Pakistan's Nuclear Assets; Pakistan and U.S. State Department Deny Such Reports";

"Doomsday Option"

The centrist, national News editorialized (10/30): "Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's hint that nuclear weapons may be used in Afghanistan to overcome Taliban resistance is a reprehensible idea that should not have even been considered.... The use of nuclear weapons, whether small or big, will push the world a few steps closer to doomsday.... Fighting the human form of terrorism with conventional weapons might be an acceptable option in the difficult circumstances, but injecting an element of nuclear warfare into a conflict that is already producing too much death and misery is unconscionable."

"U.S. Threat Of Limited Nuclear Attack On Afghanistan"

Second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt observed (10/30): "Rumsfeld said in an interview with CNN that the possibility of a limited nuclear attack on Afghanistan cannot be ruled out, but it is not needed at the moment.... General Musharraf is about to visit America. He should, personally and through the heads of all the countries, get a guarantee from America that the

nuclear option will not be used (against Afghanistan)."

"Alarming Development"

The center-right, national Nation declared (10/30): "The statement by Rumsfeld on CNN on Sunday, that should cluster bombs fail to yield the deserved result, the United States would consider the use of small tactical nuclear bombs in the war against Afghanistan, has raised major concerns.... There appears to be a shift in bombing towards the civilian areas. Hospitals, houses, Red Cross centers and buses have been blasted.... The rising number of civilian casualties and the full horror of war brought live to millions of television viewers daily will predictably build popular resistance to the brutal bombing campaign, not only in the Muslim world but...in European countries.... The reference to the nuclear option raises further questions about where this U.S. 'anti-terrorist' war is really headed."

"Rumsfeld's Jolt To Humanity"

Islamabad's rightist, English language Pakistan Observer opined (10/30): "Rumsfeld hinted at using small-scale nuclear weapons on Afghanistan to crush Taliban militia's resistance.... Rumsfelds' remarks are outrageous and an open challenge to the world community. It is, however, hoped that Rumsfeld's remarks do not represent the official U.S. position, since President Bush has repeatedly said that the United States is prepared to continue the fight against terrorism for years and decades. Yet Rumsfeld's dreadful remarks cannot obviously be taken for granted, since there cannot be smoke without fire.... (His) ironical that a country, boasting of being the most powerful militarily, should stoop so low as to hurl the threat of using nuclear weapons against a tiny, ill-equipped and already destroyed Muslim nation, just after three weeks of bombing with no practical resistance. Rumsfeld should be ashamed of his remarks and should apologize to the international community for his highly irresponsible utterance, despite the fact that he has the tendency of losing equilibrium at times."

INDIA: "Nuclear Terror"

The centrist Pioneer asserted (11/1): "The news of a U.S. elite commando force training to neutralise nuclear weapons in Pakistan in case of President Musharraf's ouster should be taken seriously.... The world today is staring at the possibility of nuclear terrorism.... Some of the sleeper agents of Al Qaida or other terrorist groups based in Pakistan could exploit the current internal turmoil in Pakistan to steal nuclear weapons...and hold the world to ransom.... No time therefore should be wasted in waiting for the situation in Pakistan to turn worse. India must prepare and put in place a contingency plan to counter not only the possibility of nuclear sabotage within the country, but also in neighboring Pakistan."

"Handing Them Over To America"

Rashtriya Sahara editorialized (11/1): "Sensing a possible defeat in the Afghan war, the United States may even resort to using nuclear bombs. We have all seen what the United States did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that too when Japan was on the brink of defeat. What is the guarantee that the United States will not use nuclear bombs in the case of Afghanistan? And then the United States has the cheek to express concerns about Laden getting hold of nuclear know-how.... Actually, the nuclear threat should worry India more than the United States. India should be prepared."

"U.S. Frustrations Over War Begins To Show"

Chidanand Rajghatta wrote in the centrist Times Of India (11/1): "Certified state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria, Sudan and Libya are helping with intelligence in the war effort, but there are doubts about the commitment of ally and frontline state Pakistan.... The conservative prescription for that is to crank up the bombing, using tactical nuclear weapons if possible....

But that comes up against the current Powell Doctrine.... Caught in this bind, the administration has been unable to articulate a clear policy and beginning to look more and more confused with each passing day."

"Perils Of Dithering"

The centrist Indian Express asked (10/31): "Is (the United States) really, as (Seymour) Hersh would have us believe, still busy training Israeli commandos (wonder how that is being digested on the Arab street) to take away Pakistan's nuclear weapons in case renegades try to seize them?.... For every day that the American alliance dithers and postpones decisive strikes on the Taliban, instead mistargeting its ammunition at innocent civilians, provides more nutrition to the 'Talibanised' sections in Pakistan--in its army, in the ISI, or in Islamist groups."

"Nuclear Buttons And Fanatics"

The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (10/31): "For the first time, the world is dealing with fanatics whose thinking is beyond the comprehension of normal human beings. The safety of the Pakistani (nuclear) arsenal, therefore, is of concern to the entire international community.... The United States is trying its best to keep Pervez Musharraf in good humor by doling out dollars. But what of the fanatics in the ISI, whose links with the Al-Qaeda in the training of the jehadis operating in Kashmir have now come to light? Is it fully under General Musharraf's control?... The stakes are high for India also because the American success in the war against terrorism is bound to lessen the menace faced by India. But it is the unforeseen complications caused by a prolongation of the conflict which is a cause for deep unease."

Media Treatment

Several dailies (10/30) covered the arrest of two Pakistani scientists suspected of having leaked Pakistani nuclear secrets, and carried stories of suspected ISI connections to al-Qaeda.

"Terror Undeterred"

The centrist Times Of India editorialized (10/30): "The report from Pakistan that two retired senior scientists of the Pakistan atomic energy establishment have been detained and questioned by Pakistani authorities for their links with the Taliban and Usama bin Laden should serve as a warning to the world at large.... It is now accepted that the NPT did not prevent the Chinese proliferation of nuclear weapon technology to Pakistan and indeed that because of the compulsions of the mujahideen war against the Soviet Union, the U.S. turned a blind eye to this transfer. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.... An additional problem now faces the world. And that is the possibility of the leadership of a nuclear weapons state passing into the hands of people with an extremist orientation.... Lately, we've heard people close to the power structure in Washington speak in terms of using tactical nuclear weapons against Usama bin Laden. This is irresponsible talk, and all the more because the White House has itself been somewhat ambivalent on this issue."

"Israeli Commandos Train U.S. To De-Nuclearize Pakistan: Report"

Major national dailies (10/30) gave prominent lead attention to Washington stories stating that U.S. and Israeli commandos are training together to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event of military ruler Pervez Musharraf being ousted by the jihadi forces. The reports quoted the New Yorker as stating that Israel's Unit 262, a commando team that has reportedly engaged in behind-the-lines operations including theft and assassinations, is currently training the U.S. force on American soil to divest Pakistan of its nuclear weapons in case of a coup against Musharraf. The Times of India report said the big problem is that they do not know the precise locations of all the warheads. Noted investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that Pakistan is believed to have some two dozen nuclear weapons. Hersh reportedly quoted

mostly unnamed past and present U.S. government officials.

Meanwhile, reports from Islamabad said a top nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood, who was being questioned by the Pakistan government about his alleged ties with the Taliban, was released briefly and then picked up again. Reports said he was detained at the insistence of American intelligence officials who suspected him of transferring nuclear technology to bin Laden.

"Black Tuesday And After"

Vidhya Subrahmaniam wrote in the centrist Times Of India (10/27): "What we have been witness to is an alarming mix of bluster, arrogance and rank inefficiency, topped with a seeming determination to take the world to the brink. Ten days ago, The New York Times quoted Bush administration officials as saying smaller nuclear arms could be used for 'targeting such figures as bin Laden and Iraq's president Saddam Hussein who hide in deep underground bunkers ... George Bush and Vladimir Putin had reached an agreement on September 23 providing for the use of nukes in 'extreme circumstance' in the Afghanistan ... the result points one way: towards unprecedented brinkmanship. Rather than combine ham-handedness with nuclear misadventure, Mr. Bush needs to show the same 'restraint' now."

BANGLADESH: Media Treatment

Newspapers reported (10/31) on fear of another round of terrorist attacks on the United States, the threat of using nuclear weapons in Afghanistan, and the remarks of U.S. Secretary of Defense that the campaign would be long and drawn out. Conservative Ittefaq quoted a Dawn report, which said that the Pakistani regime has handed over three nuclear scientists to the CIA and FBI for interrogation. The scientists have been accused of having links with bin Laden's network.

MIDDLE EAST

ISRAEL: Media Treatment

Popular, pluralist Maariv and independent Ha'aretz (English edition) reported (11/1) that the FBI is conducting a manhunt for six men carrying Israeli passports who are suspected of having photographed U.S. nuclear facilities and of plotting terror attacks against the U.S., and who were released by the INS after having been under arrest. Maariv cited Reuters that Attorney General John Ashcroft Wednesday denied the story.

WEST BANK: Media Treatment

All papers reported (11/1) that a security source said that the Federal Police are looking for six men who possess pictures and a model of the nuclear station in Florida and a pipeline in Alaska. Independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (10/30) reported that the New Yorker magazine cited American officials as saying that an American special unit is training to secure Pakistani nuclear weapons in case the government of President Pervez Musharraf is toppled. This special unit is conducting this training with an Israeli group of commandos.

EGYPT: "Banned"

Moderate opposition Al Wafd's editor-in-chief Magdy Mehanna held (10/31): "The former Pakistani military intelligence chief accused Israel of plotting the September 11 attack on the United States and the American administration of planning to remain in Afghanistan.... This information reveals certain facts. The United States expects the fall of the Pakistani regime due to its pressures on Musharraf..... Israel's participation with the United States in taking over the Pakistani nuclear weapon explains Israel's earlier fears of the threat of this weapon on its

national security.... The United States is ready to abandon its friends at any time, such as its experience with the Shah's rule in Iran and Soeharto's rule in Indonesia, who were agents for the United States.... What is then to be expected from Washington when some regimes seek to have their independent national positions? As an Arab and Islamic world, we should not be dragged behind American wishes. We should make our own calculations while the United States is leading us to its war against terrorism. We should differentiate between our own and American interests and objectives. We should learn the lessons of others, such as the Pakistani president."

Media Treatment

Small-circulation, pro-government Al Gomhouriya (10/30) quoted Rumsfeld as not ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan. Several papers reported that American-Israeli commandos are being trained to take possession of Pakistani nuclear warheads in case of a coup against the Pakistani president.

SAUDI ARABIA: "Nuke Terror"

The moderate, English-language Riyadh Daily editorialized (11/2): "The terror attacks on the U.S. have proved that terrorists would go to any desperate lengths to attain their evil goal--which is to inflict the maximum pain and suffering to the targeted country. Hence a nuclear weapon would be the terrorist's ultimate delight.... Ensuring a sound, foolproof security system around nuclear facilities the world over is of ultimate importance. Besides the danger of terrorists stealing hazardous material from nuclear plants, the thought of suicide bombers striking at the facilities is equally frightening.... The IAEA also needs to keep a watchful eye on nuclear scientists of the erstwhile Soviet Union. These now insolvent nuclear specialists could fall easy prey to terrorists' money and offer them the choicest weapon to feast on murder.... Of course, the wider solution is to curb nuclear proliferation the world over. Nuclear powers have to set upon a serious rethink exercise as to whether their nuclear arsenal is actually adding to their international clout or diminishing it. The very act of carefully nurturing nuclear arms puts the world at risk."

TUNISIA: Media Treatment

Some journalists (11/2), referring to the six Israeli-passport holders, who were questioned (and then released) by the American Immigration Service because they were holding documentation related to nuclear plants and pipelines, conjectured that there is "The Shadow of Mossad" over the 9/11 events.

Referring to a New Yorker article, several analyses (10/31) were devoted to the strategic maneuvers undertaken by the U.S. to keep the "Islamic" atomic bomb out of near Taliban factions.

Some papers (10/30) picked up on the New Yorker report, and examined U.S. plans to protect Pakistan's "nuclear capacities" from fundamentalists in case Musharraf's government is toppled.

"What Goes On Behind The Scenes Of The Campaign Against Terrorism"

Referring to a New Yorker article, editor Lotfi Touati argued in independent, French-language Le Quotidien (10/31): "To further demonize bin Laden, Americans accuse him of possessing nuclear weapons. These accusations, ridiculous as they might appear, are not formulated arbitrarily. They follow a logic that permits establishing a connection with the Pakistani atomic bomb. There are already claims that 'Pakistan has recently recognized that two of its former scientists seem to have had relations with the Taliban.' These claims were qualified by American officials as 'the dangerous tip of an iceberg.' The U.S. government publicly expressed its concerns of the potential taking of power in Pakistan by pro-Taliban factions. In this respect, we have just been informed that American and Israeli commando units are being

trained with the help of the CIA to sabotage Pakistan's nuclear arsenals. Are the Islamic countries not allowed to have their atomic bomb after all?.... Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear warheads and develops, in an excessive manner, its nuclear capacities with the endorsement of the West.... In fact, controlling the region's natural resources are the real reasons behind this campaign against terrorism. The implementation of this strategy will allow the United States to have a better control of this region, including China, Russia and India."

EUROPE

IRELAND: "UN Agency Warns On Attacks Against N-Plants"

Derek Scally reported in the liberal Irish Times (11/2): "Attacks against nuclear power plants and other acts of nuclear terrorism are 'far more likely' than ever before, the UN nuclear agency has warned.... The U.S. has imposed no-fly zones over its nuclear power plants while France has installed surface-to-air missiles near the nuclear plant at Cap la Hague.... Security has been stepped up around Germany's 19 nuclear power plants and extra soldiers have been drafted in to guard spent nuclear fuel as it is transported by rail to France for reprocessing.... The U.S. government has repeatedly declined to comment on speculation that the Saudi dissent Usama bin Laden is in possession of nuclear weapons."

RUSSIA: "Brinkmanship"

Reformist Vremya Novostey (10/30) carried a page-one comment by Yevgeniy Antonov: "After three weeks of fighting, even Washington is beginning to acknowledge that none of the objectives have really been achieved. Instead, the political consequences of the campaign have given the world a bad headache. Failing to destroy Taliban in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, the Allies may face the rise of a new Taliban across the border, in 'nuclear-powered' Pakistan. The burning question is whether Islamabad is in charge and whether it can keep the Islamists from getting hold of nuclear weapons.... While there is no immediate nuclear threat, the extremists, were they to come to power, would turn the 140-million-strong nation into a source of instability in South Asia. To sum up, rather than seeing the operation wrapped up soon, with Usama bin Laden captured and Taliban split and vanquished, we have ended up with a dragged-out war, no information about Bin Laden's whereabouts, and a consolidated Taliban, with the key leaders of the anti-Talib opposition killed and Pakistan in turmoil."

"Romancing The Bomb"

Boris Petrovich remarked in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (10/30): "After putting Afghanistan in order, the international anti-terrorist coalition may have to turn to Pakistan. Unlike its northern neighbor, where everything has to be built from scratch, Pakistan needs minor adjustment. But given Pakistan's advanced nuclear missile program, the forward-looking 'globalists,' need to be especially careful."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

CHINA: "Bin Laden Attains Nuclear Materials"

Qian Feng commented in official Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao, 10/30): "A sensational message has been released by the Western media that Bin Laden has already attained nuclear materials. If Bin Laden really launches a nuclear retaliatory campaign, will the United States respond in like manner?... Some experts say that the United States is unlikely to take the lead in using nuclear weapons. It is because on the one hand, the mountainous geographical environment will limit the effectiveness of nuclear weapons, and on the other hand, it may generate fierce antipathy among Arab nations and have a negative impact on the world coalition against terror which the United States wants to establish."

INDONESIA: "Osama, Al-Qaeda, and Afghanistan"

Former director of Indonesian Intelligence, Z.A. Maulani, commented in Islamic-oriented newsweekly Panji Masyarakat (10/31): "This war may last long. The Afghans are not a nation with an experience of losing in a war.... This is going to be a very long guerrilla war. Let's say the United States is able to place Zahir Shah as a puppet ruler in Afghanistan. He would not linger in power to death. Who is willing to keep him safe all the time? If Kabul were to be occupied by U.S. troops--or Usama or Mullah Muhammad were to fall victim--demonstrations would be even more rampant. The Patans in Pakistan, who belong to the same ancestors and the same faith of those in Afghanistan, would not remain idle. There could be attacks against the U.S. base in Pakistan. But, the most important thing is that the generals who Musharraf dismissed are Patan. If Usama is a martyr...this group could carry out a coup. The military fundamentalists would control Pakistan, including the nuclear bombs in Patan."

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