Skip to comments.Japanese firms played key role in Pakistan's nuclear program
Posted on 02/16/2009 4:44:08 PM PST by shielagolden
Japanese firms played key role in Pakistan's nuclear program Monday 16th February, 05:49 AM JST
ISLAMABAD/TOKYO Japanese companies played a key role in supplying equipment used for Pakistans nuclear development, investigations by Kyodo News in Islamabad and Tokyo have revealed in recent days.
Comments by Pakistans disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and former employees of the companies reveal in detail for the first time how leading Japanese manufacturers knowingly and unknowingly helped Pakistan acquire nuclear capability and were incorporated into its supply framework.
Pakistan began work on its nuclear program after the 1974 nuclear test by India, and Khan was put in charge of Pakistans uranium enrichment program in 1976. Another organization, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, was also given the job to develop the plutonium route to a nuclear weapon.
From then on, Khans organization, Khan Research Laboratories, and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission were working on parallel programsthe uranium enrichment route and the plutonium routeto give Pakistan nuclear capability. Both the organizations imported sizable amounts of equipment and materials into Pakistan.
Uranium enrichment is a technically demanding process that requires sophisticated equipment to transform natural uranium into nuclear fuel.
Investigations revealed that both Khan and the head of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission visited Japan at least once in the 1980s to shop for their respective programs.
Khan, dubbed the father of Pakistans nuclear program, told Kyodo News in a written interview that Khan Research Laboratories acquired a wide range of machines, laboratory equipment and metal products from Japan.
One of the major acquisitions was the import of ring magnets, a key device required to manufacture centrifuges used for enriching uranium, Khan said.
Like several other countries Japan was also a very, very important country for our imports, he said.
Khan identified several Japanese companies from which materials, machines and equipment was acquired.
According to Khan, a mid-sized Tokyo-based trading company, Western Trading, which went bankrupt in 2004, acted as the point of contact with Khans side.
Mian Mohammad Farooq, a late Pakistani businessman who headed a Pakistani trading company, brokered several important transactions for Pakistans nuclear program with Japan and several other countries. Western Trading entered into business relations in the late 1970s with Farooq, who is believed to have put Khan Research Laboratories in touch with Western Trading.
According to a former employee of Western Trading who spoke on condition of anonymity, the company in the late 1980s exported to Pakistan at least 6,000 ring magnets made by a major Japanese metals producer. Khan also confirmed the imports from Japan.
The former employee said he never heard what the magnets would be used for.
As a businessmen of a trading company, the priority is to sell goods, he said, but hastened to add, of course I always obeyed the export laws.
Khan also told Kyodo News that another key purchase was an electron microscope from Japan Electron Optics Laboratory. An electron microscope is required for testing the strength of the alloys used in the manufacture of centrifuges.
A former JEOL employee of who spoke on condition of anonymity said two such microscopes and an X-ray diffractometer were sold to Khans organization for more than 60 million yen. In the interview, he clearly indicated that he was aware of the nuclear nature of the work in which Khan was involved.
Khan said he wanted to buy a JEOL electron microscope, the former employee said. The negotiations went smoothly.
In Tokyo, JEOL confirmed in response to a query by Kyodo News that it had exported an electron microscope to Khan Research Laboratories in the 1980s but said it was unaware of the work in which the organization was involved.
Kyodo News was also able to confirm that another company, Hitachi Seiki, which went bankrupt in 2002, also supplied equipment such as automatic lathes to Khan through Western Trading.
In addition, maraging steel, beryllium thin sheets, beryllium-copper rods and other metal alloys having nuclear applications were also acquired from Japanese firms, according to Khan.
A Pakistani court earlier this month declared Khan a free man, abolishing his five-year house arrest and other government-imposed restrictions.
Khan, who headed Pakistans nuclear enrichment program from 1976 to 2001, confessed in 2004 to transferring nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, but he later retracted the confession and claimed he had been framed and made a scapegoat.
He was pardoned in 2004 by then President Pervez Musharraf in consideration of his services to Pakistans nuclear program, but remained under virtual house arrest.
According to the court verdict, Khan is now free to talk to the media and express his views in public, free to carry out research and free to move across the country so long as he informs the government of his movements in advance, for security reasons.
Pakistan began work on its nuclear program after the 1974 nuclear test by India, and Khan was put in charge of Pakistans uranium enrichment program in 1976
Were these companies still exporting when N korea and Iran got started?
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Hitachi was also the company that gave similar lathes to the Russians during the cold war, thereby assuring that US effortw to locate soviet subs (then threatening Japanese sea lanes, among others) were 10 times harder.
In fact, in many cases Hitachi brought the Russians into the factories after hours in order to thrwart observation, indicating they KNEW what they were doing was wrong.
For many years on USN bases, you could not buy Hitachi stuff, for this very reason. At the time, there was a HUGE outcry..
I am surprised you came up with ANY link —even thorough google searches turn up precious little about this now mostly forgotten story.
Story to coincide with Hillary’s trip to Tokyo?
NOTE - Japan has had trouble safeguarding Aegis technology (chinese honey-traps) and wants the F-22.
My brother worked for the Navy at the time and it was a disgrace with only a slap on the wrist. These “friends” of ours put his life at risk for money.
I have still never bought a Toshiba product ever since and I never will.
I hope they all smoke a turd in hell for that one.
whoops! I’m so sorry, yes, you’re right it was TOSHIBA, and not Hitachi, yes, that’s right..!
Karma sucks, doesn't it Japan?