Thu, Dec 8, 2016 | updated 07:35 AM IST

Pakistan's ties with North Korea may hurt its NSG bid

Updated: Sep 03, 2016 18:42 IST

Tokyo [Japan], Sep. 3 (ANI): Even as China supports Pakistan's bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership, Islamabad's partnership with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) could derail Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's aspirations of joining the non-proliferation organisation.

According to an article published in The Diplomat, Pakistan and North Korea have cooperated extensively on the development of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technologies since the 1970s.

The article says it is the legacy of a major scandal linking the Pakistani military to North Korea's nuclear program and strong alliance with China that have prevented Islamabad from joining the United Nations efforts to diplomatically isolate the DPRK.

It says that while economic links between Pakistan and North Korea were established during the early 1970s, the foundations of the modern Islamabad-Pyongyang security partnership was forged by former Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's 1976 visit to North Korea.

This partnership expanded significantly during the 1990s, as Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear weapons and close relationship with terrorist outfit Taliban isolated it from the international community.

During the time, the Chinese Government refused to sell Pakistan M-11 missiles, as it was trying to normalise relations with the United States.

So, the then Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto purchased Rodong long-range missiles from North Korea and in exchange provided Pyongyang with "civilian nuclear technology".

In 2002, some U.S. officials announced that Pakistan had exported gas centrifuges to help North Korea enrich uranium and construct a nuclear bomb. However, the Pakistani military officials denied any such involvement.

But after the 2002 reports, the then Pakistani prime minister Pervez Musharraf prevented the United States from interrogating AQ Khan, a prominent nuclear scientist who assisted the nuclear programs of North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Even though Pakistan has avoided overt military cooperation with North Korea in recent years, Islamabad remains unwilling to fully comply with UN sanctions against the DPRK.

The presence of a North Korean consulate in Karachi and an embassy in Islamabad shows that UN sanctions have not hindered diplomatic cooperation between the two.

While on one hand, the United States and most western countries support India's NSG membership bid, Pakistan needs China's backing to accede to the NSG.

In the past few weeks, Pakistan was seen pitching again for its admittance to the NSG group. (ANI)