04:20 GMT27 October 2020
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    The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has announced that they will be conducting an investigation into potential links between India’s rival Pakistan and the North Korean nuclear programs, promising to “hold accountable” those who have assisted North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj "deplored North Korea's recent actions and stated that its proliferation linkages must be explored and those involved must be held accountable," according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar on Monday.

    While Kumar did not directly name Pakistan in his comment, he did say that he was "giving you enough material to try to figure out what we are talking about."

    Pakistan, a nuclear power, has been accused on many occasions of assisting North Korea in its nuclear ambitions. In 2004, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder and chief scientist of Pakistan's nuclear program, claimed that he had sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya, and Iran. 

    Islamabad claimed that Khan was acting alone and arrested him, but Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy told Germany's Deutsche Welle that was impossible. "[the nuclear materials were stored at] a high-security installation in Pakistan and guarded with very fearsome amount of policing and military intelligence surrounding it," Hoodbhoy said earlier in September. "Moreover, the centrifuge weighs half a ton each and it is not possible that these could have been smuggled out in a matchbox, so certainly there was complicity at a very high level."

    India and North Korea once enjoyed a close trade relationship, but that has since ended as New Delhi further enmeshes itself in the US bloc. India has banned all trade to and from North Korea with the exception of food and medicine. In 2016, India was North Korea's third largest trade partner after China and North Korea, with a nearly $200 million trade partnership.

    India also set up a joint research program into rocket technology at the Dehradun-based Center for Space Science and Technology in Asia and the Pacific. The program, which featured dozens of top-level North Korean scientists, was shuttered when the UN said it could help North Korea gain the expertise to build nuclear and ballistic missiles.

    The comment came after a meeting with her American and Japanese counterparts, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono. The meeting took place at the United Nations General Assembly session.

    The foreign ministers discussed numerous issues along with proliferation. "Three broad issues were discussed — maritime security, connectivity, and [nuclear] proliferation," said Kumar. "We have spelled out what these heads mean on security the ministers emphasized the need to ensure freedom of navigation respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes."

    Freedom of Navigation refers to the international law that vessels flying the flags of sovereign states are not to be unduly harassed in international waters. It usually refers to the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims is Chinese territory. The US maintains a major naval presence in the South China Sea to enforce Freedom of Navigation, and thus reject Chinese claims there.


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    North Korean nuclear program, Pakistan's nuclear program, nuclear program, Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Raveesh Kumar, Sushma Swaraj, Japan, China, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Pakistan, India
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