Prithvi 2 test fired: It was fear of this missile that drove Pak towards nuclear proliferation
Prithvi-II missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, was on Wednesday successfully test fired from Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha.
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Prithvi-II missile is capable of carrying a 500 kg to 1,000 kg warheads and is propelled by liquid propulsion twin engines.
Prithvi missile program began in 1983 under India's ambitious Integrated Guided Missile Development Program aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in the development and production of wide range of ballistic missiles. At that time Pakistan was way behind India in missile development.
Pakistan did not have a missile to match Prithvi's striking capabilities at that time and it left them worried. Pakistan then approached North Korea for Nodong missiles. In exchange, North Korea demanded centrifuge technology from Pakistan. A deal was struck and North Korea and Pakistan began to share missile expertise in 1992.
In 1993, December, former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto initiated a deal with North Korea for Nodong missiles. Pakistan, at that time, was also worried about India's rapid advances in missile technology. Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan then stepped in to provide Pakistan with an alternative nuclear weapons delivery option by obtaining intermediate-range liquid-fuel ballistic missiles from North Korea.
In November 1995, North Korea and Pakistan apparently struck a deal for 12-25, Nodong missiles, and at least one transporter erector launcher or mobile erector launcher, 44 the delivery of which reportedly began in 1996-97.
It is widely assumed that the provision of centrifuge technology was part of the deal and was given to North Korea in exchange for the Nodong missiles, according to a book "A.Q. Khan and onward proliferation from Pakistan".
AQ Khan is also said to have helped Iran in developing nuclear weapons technology. AQ Khan's nuclear network came to light when American intelligence operatives about five giant cargo containers full of specialized centrifuge parts being loaded into one of the nondescript vessels that ply the Straits of Malacca. The shipment was later seized near Suez Canal. That seizure led to the unraveling of a trading network that sent bomb-making designs and equipment to at least three countries -- Iran, North Korea, and Libya.