Musharraf govt pushed Iran to abandon N-weapons programme | Newspaper | DAWN.COM KARACHI: Even as revelations about Dr Abdul Qadeer Khanâ€™s nuclear trafficking were raising concerns about possible military involvement in proliferation activities, the Musharraf regime appears to have been actively dissuading Iran, one of Dr Khanâ€™s clients, from developing nuclear weapons. Confidential American cables obtained by Dawn through WikiLeaks reveal that in a series of meetings with senior Iranian officials Gen Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri took a hard line against any Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear-weapons capability. Pakistani officials also served as interlocutors between Iran and the US, reporting to the Americans on these meetings and relaying messages between the two countries. At least seven such meetings or phone calls took place with the Iranians and 11 with the Americans in 2006 alone. A May 2006 cable about Gen Musharrafâ€™s meeting with Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoodi reported that â€œaccording to Kasuri, Musharraf told the visitors that Iran should stop all efforts to enrich uranium now, adding that Tehran was making life difficult for its neighbour, Pakistanâ€. Later that year, Mr Kasuri would tell the Americans that over the past three years he had â€œmade it his mission to persuade Tehran not to provoke a conflict over Iranâ€™s nuclear program thus endangering regional â€” and Pakistanâ€™s domestic â€” securityâ€. Based on the frequency of reporting to American officials on the issue, toeing the US line seems to have been one motivation for this deep involvement. But in an April 2006 meeting with US Senator Chuck Hagel, Mr Kasuri provided a list of other reasons why Pakistan was so keen to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. â€˜â€œWe are the only Muslim country [with such weapons],â€â€™ he said, â€˜â€œand donâ€™t want anyone else to get it.â€â€™ Mr Kasuri was also worried that because Pakistan was â€œa perceived US â€˜stoogeâ€™ â€, an American attack on Iran would â€œembarrass Pakistan in the Muslim worldâ€, possibly lead to Iran â€œdestabilisingâ€ the country and â€œinflame sectarian tensionsâ€ at home. The conversation took place against the backdrop of Iranâ€™s announcement earlier that month that it had successfully enriched uranium. Mr Kasuri offered his advice on the development, insisting that the announcement was a â€œâ€˜PR stuntâ€™â€ since Iranâ€™s enrichment capabilities were â€œâ€˜not a new thingâ€™â€ and that the US should simply â€œâ€˜humour themâ€™â€ instead of responding militarily. â€œDuring a visit to Pakistan,â€ the cable added, â€œAli Larijani, secretary of Iranâ€™s Supreme National Security Council, has asked Kasuri to talk to the Americans. Kasuri had said he would do so on one condition, that Iranâ€™s program had to be independently verifiable.â€ This was the role an anxious Mr Kasuri would continue to play that year, urging the US to talk to Iran and the latter to back off from weapons development. Before an upcoming visit with President Ahmedinejad on the sidelines of a D-8 conference of developing Muslim countries in May 2008, Prime Minister Aziz had also â€œasked if [the Americans] had any adviceâ€. Mr Kasuri later updated the US Embassy on this visit, reporting that Mr Aziz and the Turkish prime minister â€œmet privately with Ahmedinejad, conveying a direct message that Tehran must â€¦ forego its weapons program. â€œAziz and Erdogan also condemned Ahmedinejadâ€™s statements attacking Israel as completely unacceptable â€¦ â€œAziz urged Ahmedinejad to publicly announce that Iran would immediately place a moratorium on uranium enrichment, in order to give the EU-3 an opening to re-engage Tehran in constructive dialogue.â€ Later that month, when the US announced its willingness to join the EU-3 in talks with Iran, the American ambassador informed Mr Kasuri that â€œthe US expects Pakistan to vigorously support the US action. FM Kasuri agreed, saying that he would ensure that the MFA issued a statement of support immediately.â€ By 11pm that night a statement had been issued, and Mr Kasuri followed this up with a call to the Iranian foreign minister urging Iran â€œto announce an immediate suspension of its enrichment program in order to give dialogue a chanceâ€. This phone call was, again, promptly reported to the American ambassador, who commented that â€œKasuri may be wildly worried that he has gone out on a limb by endorsing the Secretary [of Stateâ€™s] statement so vigorously.â€ Interactions continue for the rest of the year, and in December 2006, â€œfresh off his plane from Tehran, Foreign Minister Kasuri briefed the ambassador â€¦ regarding his conversations with President Ahmedinejad, FM Muttaki, former President Rafsanjani â€¦ â€œAlthough the MFA had publicly described the foreign ministerâ€™s visit as centring on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, Kasuri told the ambassador that he discussed a number of other topics, such as nuclear policy, Lebanon and Iraq.â€ Mr Kasuri then went on to provide a detailed report on his nuclear-policy discussions in Tehran. In the last such cable written during the Musharraf government, the ambassador noted in March 2007 that â€œForeign Minister Kasuri says he has told Iranian Foreign Minster Muttaki that Iran must change its unrealistic and destabilising stances toward Israel, the US and nuclear issues.â€¦ â€œPresident Musharraf visited Tehran in February â€¦ According to [Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad] Khan, Musharraf met with Ahmedinejad to â€¦ â€˜clearly convey concerns that Iranian confrontation (with the US and the west) must be prevented.â€™â€ Cables referenced: WikiLeaks # 60762, 64511, 65800, 66183, 66432, 91041, 101153.