This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, January 5, 2004.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: new physical evidence Pakistan is arming our enemies with nuclear secrets. Are we in danger? Joining us is UPI Managing Editor for International Affairs Martin Sieff.
Martin, let's start with numbers. Pakistan has about how many nuclear weapons?
MARTIN SIEFF, UPI INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR: Between 35 to 60.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And are they in any way importing technology to other nations?
SIEFF: Indeed, they are. It's a two-way...
VAN SUSTEREN: Or exporting, I should say.
SIEFF: No, you're right, Greta. It's a two-way street. They've gotten a lot of their advance technology from China, from North Korea, from other sources, as well. And they've been funded by the Saudis. But they also export widely, as well. We suspect -- that is to say, the U.S. intelligence community tells us that they suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Nobody knows exactly who they proliferate to, but they certainly deal back to the North Koreans and others, as well, and Iran. It's a two-way street.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf came into power in a military coup in 1999, took over power. Since 1999, since Musharraf, who's our big ally in this war on terrorism -- is it -- are they still exchanging information with other countries about nuclear weapons?
SIEFF: No one knows for sure, but it's likely that they are. Musharraf has followed a two-track policy. Until 9/11, until the terrorist attacks, he was openly and directly supporting -- well, I say openly. People in Pakistan, including Western analysts, could see it very easily, but they denied it publicly. But they were supporting the Taliban to the hilt, the people who protected bin Laden and Afghanistan. The Taliban could not have sustained themselves without the help they were getting from many elements in the Pakistani military.
Now, after 9/11, Musharraf recognized the wrath and anger of the United States, and he has worked with us very consistently since then. He is, in fact, with all his complexities, the best friend we could have in Pakistan right now. And that's why the terrorists are targeting him.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. He's been targeted -- two attempts in the last couple of weeks on his life. Is he in control of the nuclear weapons that they have and of their technology?
SIEFF: The answer is, yes, he is. Pakistan army command and control is very good, but it depend on the man at the top. And the man at the top, regardless of what the constitution says, is the man who has effective control over the army. Right now, that is Musharraf. But if Musharraf gets assassinated, then it's all up in the air.
VAN SUSTEREN: And who is -- I mean, there's a man named Khan, who is the father of the nuclear weapon technology in Pakistan, right?
SIEFF: That is correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: And is he friend or foe to the United States?
SIEFF: A very ambiguous figure, indeed, because he has connections to groups that have proliferated. And you find with him, as you find with other people at the top of the Pakistan army command, including the current chief of combined services -- the equivalent in Pakistan of our chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a position that is honorary in theory, that it doesn't have direct power, but in practice does have quite a bit of power. This is a man who Musharraf is looking to remove in late March, before he gives up under the new constitution his army -- direct army command positions. But if he's assassinated before that, hard-liners may well take control in Pakistan. We have no guarantee that they won't.
Pakistan is a wilderness of mirrors. People who used to be our friends also have close ties with fundamentalists, with the Taliban, even with al Qaeda, and we're not even talking about just the army here. We're talking about the security services in Pakistan, who are a force within the army. And our human intelligence on them is very shaky. It's not at all clear to our political and military leaders who is were and what is what in Pakistan.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, two attempts on his life, and he managed to dodge the proverbial bullet in the past two weeks. But there is an active campaign to kill him.
SIEFF: Oh, absolutely. As Ambassador Ginsberg rightly said to you a few minutes ago, the number two man in Al Qaeda publicly called for the assassination of President Musharraf. Within 11 days, there were two attempts on his life. Now, the attempts, the way they were done, are very alarming. They were both highly professional attempts, high-tech attempts. And also, there is strong indication from the nature of both attempts that the terrorists had inside intelligence coming from the heart of the army command, that there are moles within Musharraf's own organization. They knew his timetable. They knew the unpredictable routes that he took with his motorcades. They had access to advanced demolitions technology. In the second attempt, they used suicide bombers. And in both occasions, they came within inches of killing him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean, it sort of -- I mean, it seems to me that no one's going to stop trying to kill him. It's almost -- I mean, it sounds terrible, but it's almost inevitable. Or not?
SIEFF: Well, it's a very interesting point. The terrorists themselves are racing against time. President Musharraf has just cut a deal with the Islamic fundamentalist parties and other groups in the Pakistan parliament that he is now going to have much wider, sweeping constitutional powers as president of Pakistan, but he has agreed to give up command of the army at the end of March. But in the weeks before he gives that, in mid to late March, he is due to preside over a series of key promotions and firings within the Pakistani military, which they always do every year in late March. And this is very clear that he's planning to purge the army high command and the Intraservice Intelligence Agency of some of the most powerful fundamentalist figures who are opposed to his policy of cooperation with the United States.
That is why the terrorists are stalking him now. They want to be able to assassinate him before the end of March. So they may still try after that, but...
VAN SUSTEREN: But that's their -- that seems to be a drop-dead date, almost...
SIEFF: Exactly. Exactly.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Martin, thank you very much.
SIEFF: A pleasure.
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