Skip to comments.Hunt for Links in Clandestine Nuclear Chain Widening to Japan, Africa, Diplomats Say
Posted on 02/05/2004 11:42:55 AM PST by knak
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - The hunt for middlemen who worked with the father of Pakistan's nuclear program to supply rogue regimes with weapons technology has widened to Japan and Africa, diplomats said Thursday. Suspects in Germany and two other European countries are also being investigated in the growing probe of the clandestine black market apparently headed by Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan, they said.
Also, Malaysia announced Thursday it would investigate a company controlled by the prime minister's son for its alleged role in supplying components to Libya's nuclear program. The company also has been linked to the international nuclear black market tied to Pakistan.
The chief U.N. nuclear inspector said Thursday that Khan was an "important part" of the clandestine supply chain, but he said long and painstaking investigations into who sold what and to whom lay ahead.
"Dr. Khan was not working alone," said Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "There were items that were manufactured in other countries, items that were reassembled in different countries.
"Dr. Khan was the tip of an iceberg for us, but we still have a lot of work to do."
ElBaradei said middlemen in five countries supplied nuclear technology and expertise to Iran - which denies running a nuclear weapons program - and to Libya, which has owned up to having weapons of mass destruction or programs to make them. Pakistani officials have said Khan's network had supplied North Korea, too, but ElBaradei said he couldn't confirm that.
The five countries include Germany and Japan as well as two countries in Europe and one in Africa that the diplomats would not name.
In Washington, CIA Director George Tenet confirmed that Khan was at the center of the nuclear black market. He said U.S. and British intelligence had been tracking its movements for years.
"His network was shaving years off the nuclear weapons development timelines of several states, including Libya," Tenet said in a speech, adding that now "Khan and his network have been dealt a crushing blow."
Pakistan - and Khan - became the focus of international investigation on the basis of information Libya and Iran gave the IAEA about where they covertly bought nuclear technology that can be used to make weapons.
In Islamabad, President Pervez Musharraf said the IAEA was welcome to come and discuss the proliferation issue. "We are open and we will tell them everything," Musharraf said.
Still, Musharraf said Pakistan wouldn't submit to any U.N. supervision of its weapons program, and that no documents would be handed over to the IAEA. He also ruled out an independent investigation of the military's role in spreading nuclear technology.
Pakistan, which did not sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, is not obliged to submit its nuclear weapons activity to outside scrutiny.
Musharraf also pardoned Khan, heading off any trial that could have uncovered revelations about government and military involvement.
In the nuclear procurement chain headed by Khan, hundreds of millions of dollars are thought to have changed hands over the past 15 years.
Among items bought by Libya were engineer's drawings of a nuclear weapon, now under IAEA seal in the United States.
One of the diplomats said that drawing appeared to be of Chinese design but cautioned against assuming it came directly from China.
"There are no fingerprints on the drawings which lead you to any specific country," he said.
China is widely assumed to have been Pakistan's key supplier of much of the clandestine nuclear technology that Khan used to publicly establish Pakistan as a nuclear power in 1998.
The revelations that nuclear know-how, and turnkey level equipment needed to enrich uranium to weapons grade was traded over the past two decades have escalated fears of similar clandestine programs elsewhere.
ElBaradei said he was not aware of covert weapons development in countries other than Libya, Iran and North Korea. But one diplomat said the success of the network - as measured by the nuclear weapons blueprint and high-tech enrichment equipment sold to Libya - were cause for alarm.
"Libya for the most part tried to buy its way into the nuclear club," he said. "It was on its way," to getting everything, he added.
In Malaysia, the company under investigation said it didn't know that some centrifuge components it made were headed for Libya.
The company, Scomi Precision Engineering, or SCOPE, accepted a contract from a Dubai-based company after negotiating with a middleman, identified as a Sri Lankan, B.S.A. Tahir, police said.
SCOPE's parent company, the Scomi group, confirmed it made "14 semifinished components" for Gulf Technical Industries and shipped them in four consignments between December 2002 and August 2003, under a deal negotiated by Tahir and worth $3.4 million.
U.S. and British intelligence said the deal between SCOPE and Tahir involved components that could be used for uranium enrichment.
Kamaluddin Abdullah, 35, the only son of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is Scomi's largest shareholder, although he has no management role. He could not be reached for comment.
*!* HELLO! *!*
Paging former Ambassador Wilson...
Or did someone just need some raw material from a country otherwise known for growing cowpeas?
Not to repeat myself too much, but Bush never named "Niger" as the country where Saddam "sought" (not "bought") uranium, though many interpreted it so in light of the mini-hoohaa about an apparent bogus letter from there.
If this article is talking about "technology" it could be only, I believe, South Africa, which had a bomb program. If it's "uranium" that could be South Africa, Gabon, Niger or Namibia, uranium producing states according to sites on the web.
And the collection of idiots who sent him over there in the first place...
AUGUST 1997 : (SOUTH AFRICA SELLS ZIRCONIUM TUBING PLANT TO CHINA, NEWSPAPER REPORT OF ILLEGAL CHINESE WORKERS DISMANTLING PLANT ALERTS PEOPLE TO THE SALE RIGHT AROUND THE TIME CHINA HAD CONCLUDED AN AGREEMENT WITH IRAN TO BUILD A ZIRCONIUM TUBING PLANT THERE) Abstract : In August 1997, South Africa and China concluded a contract for the sale of a plant used to manufacture zirconium tubing at Pelindaba. The deal was not made public until a South African newspaper revealed the presence of "illegal" Chinese technicians dismantling the plant and packing equipment for export to China. The Chinese workers had entered South Africa with business visas, and had been working without the proper employment visas. According to an unidentified member of the South African government, had it not been for the newspaper report, "there might have been nothing to stop this sensitive equipment leaving the country."
The South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated that there are three pieces of equipment, described as CNC [computer numerically controlled] machine tools used to make complex molds, require authorization for export under the Nuclear Suppliers Group dual-use guidelines. The South African government requires an end-user certificate from China before it will authorize the export of the equipment. US officials are concerned that China might ship the South African plant to Iran, because China has signed a contract to build a zirconium tube factory in Iran. - "Is Iran In RSA-China Zirconium Deal?," Jane's Pointer, February 1998, p.1 , 1 February 1998 via - "CNS Nuclear and Missile Developments Database: Sample Abstracts on South Africa's Nuclear Doctrine," These abstracts were selected from the over 30,000 entries in the CNS Nuclear and Missile Developments Database., http://www.nti.org/e_research/e1_safrica_nuclear.html.
FEBRUARY 14, 2003 : (SOUTH AFRICA WILL SEND ITS EXPERTS TO IRAQ; IRAQ ACCEPTS) South Africa will send experts in dismantling weapons of mass destruction to Iraq as part of Pretoria's bid to avert war, President Thabo Mbeki said in his state of the nation address today. The intervention follows a visit to Baghdad by Aziz Pahad, the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, and comes ahead of today's crucial report-back by United Nations weapons inspectors to the Security Council in New York. Addressing a special joint sitting of Parliament, Mbeki said it was hoped the UN report-back "will not serve as a signal to some that the time has come to unleash the fury of war".
"As we speak, a number of our citizens are preparing to travel to Iraq. These are the experts who led our country's programme to destroy our nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, as well as the missiles for the delivery of these weapons in conditions of combat." The work they had done had resulted in South Africa becoming an international example of best practice in disarmament, he said. South Africa voluntarily disarmed its weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s. Pretoria had proposed to Iraq and to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General that these experts share South Africa's experience with Baghdad, Mbeki said. "I am pleased to inform the Honourable Members that Iraq has accepted our offer, which we have already discussed with the leadership of the weapons inspectors. "We trust that this intervention will help to ensure the necessary proper co-operation between the United Nations' inspectors and Iraq, so that the issue of weapons of mass destruction is addressed satisfactorily, without resort to war."
Mbeki thanked the Iraqi government for its positive response, as well as its recent decisions to allow U2 and other aerial surveillance flights, to encourage its citizens to co-operate with inspectors without the presence of officials, and to adopt legislation prohibiting the production of weapons of mass destruction. - "SA to send its nuclear experts to Iraq: Mbeki," http://www.sabcnews.com/politics/government/0,1009,52970,00.html., February 14, 2003, 11:15
JUNE 10, 2003 : (INTERIM UNMOVIC CHIEF NAMED, WAS THE LEADER OF THE IAEA TEAM WHICH CERTIFIED SOUTH AFRICA'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM DISSOLUTION) U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has appointed UNMOVIC Deputy Executive Chairman Demetrius Perricos to take over as acting head of the commission July 1, when Blix retires. Perricos was the commission's director of planning and operations for three years prior to his appointment in January to the body's number two post. The Greek native joined the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1972 as a safeguards inspector and led the team that certified the dissolution of South Africa's nuclear weapons program.He also worked in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War -"Interim UNMOVIC Chief Named ," U.N. release, June 10
JULY 11, 2003 : (SOUTH AFRICA : BUSH TRIP : STOWAWAY SNEAKS ONTO PRESS PLANE ASSOCIATED WITH AIR FORCE ONE, FLIES TO ENTEBBE, UGANDA, BOARDS BUS WITH PRESS AND ENTERS HOTEL) Secret Service just arrested a stowaway who made it onto the Bush press charter plane in Pretoria, South Africa this morning and flew unmolested to here, Entebbe, Uganda. After getting on and off the 747 with absolutely no credentials, he boarded a bus with the rest of the White House press corps and was taken to the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel on the shore of Lake Victoria -- the same hotel where Bush arrived 90 minutes later. At length, the White House staff noticed that no one seemed to know the guy, so they alerted Secret Service, who arrested him right here at the hotel. There was a lot of shouting from the guy as he was hustled off to jail. Secret Service Agent Mark Sullivan assured reporters the president was never in danger, although he didn't say whether the same held true for the press. After all, there are reports of Al Qaeda presence here in Uganda. MORE... Man had no weapons, sources tell DRUDGE, and no passport. Man being charged by Ugandan authorities with illegal entry. He was nabbed after actually trying to enter the part of the hotel complex were the president was making his appearance... MORE...- "Drudge: SECRET SERVICE BUSTS STOWAWAY ON BUSH PRESS PLANE," by Matt Drudge, Drudge Report, July 11, 2003 |
West Germany/South Africa: nuclear cooperation
South Africa is now able to produce its own nuclear weapons - thanks to intensive cooperation with the Federal German Republic, which swops nuclear technology for uranium, This came out at a conference on German-South African nuclear cooperation held in Bonn on November 11 - 12 by the German anti-apartheid movement The SPD (the ruling social-democratic party) forbade its members to take part; German journalists were asked by the authorities not to write about the conference, and almost nothing was published.
Facts that emerged were:
the uranium comes from Namibia, where it is mined, by the German Aran-gesellschaft, British Nuclear Fuels and two S.A. companies.
enrichment is at Pelindaba (S.A.) using the German jet-nozzle process plus elements from the ultra-centrifuge process supplied by Urenco.
It was last year that both Russian and American spy satellites recorded preparations for atomic bomb testing in the Kalahari desert.
Namibian uranium is also due to be enriched, from 1980, in the enlarged Urenco plant at Almelo. The Dutch movement is calling for a ban on this enrichment.
Contact: Anti-Apartheid Bewegung
53 Bonn 1
ph. 211 1355
How The Hydra-Headed Monster Spread Its Tentacles Despite Musharrafs denials, it is clear that the nuclear proliferation was not carried out clandestinely by just a few rogue scientists
SHEBONTI RAY DADWAL
In November 2003, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi surprised the world by not only pledging to dismantle his unconventional weapons programme, but also invited nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the facilities. But, it was while combing through Libyas nuclear weapons infrastructure that the stunned inspectors slowly uncovered the sophisticated network of nuclear suppliers, spanning West Asia, East and South Asia and Africa, with secret bank accounts used by the middlemen from Europe, South Africa, Sri Lanka and other countries spread across the Persian Gulf. As the IAEA director-general Mohammad El Bareidi later said at the World Economic Forum, he was taken aback by the complexity of the illicit trafficking through which Libya had attained the material and blueprints for the nuclear weapons design.
However, what is more important is the discovery that the data and assistance in developing Libyas uranium enrichment capabilities were supplied by Pakistan, apparently after Colonel Gaddafis offer to India to acquire nuclear technology in return for money, oil and business was rejected.
A few months prior to Libyas declaration to surrender its nuclear programme, the IAEA had also discovered that Irans nuclear programme was far more advanced than it was led to believe.
In fact, in the early 1990s, there were reports that the Iranian centrifuges were suspiciously similar to those used by Pakistan in the early phases of its own programme. And given the frequent visits of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the erstwhile head of the eponymous
Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), to Iran during that period, the needle of suspicion was pointed more directly at Islamabad. Recently, Iran has also confessed that it first got help for its uranium enrichment programme in 1987, routed through Dubai by a network of middlemen, at a time when relations with Pakistan were more than friendly. Now the IAEA findings in both Iran and Libya have finally led the agency and the global nuclear community to acknowledge that the epicentre of this trade in nuclear material and know-how is Pakistan.
Calling the scale of the global market in nuclear-related material and equipment the Wal-Mart of private sector proliferation, Mr El Bareidi further said that neither IAEI nor the intelligence branches of the big countries had a grip on the extent of the nuclear trafficking that was going on.
Following the IAEA revelations, Islamabad initially tried to deny any official involvement in nuclear proliferation activities. However, as more and more evidence pointed the finger unmistakably towards Islamabad, General Pervez Musharraf declared that this was the work of a few individuals, led by Dr Khan, the motivation supposedly being greed or ambition. He also promised that anyone found guilty would be punished.
Dr Khan was placed under house arrest, and another 55 people were arrested for de-briefing, although 26 of them were subsequently released. However, given Dr Khans stature as the the father of the Islamic bomb in Pakistan, it will be difficult for the government to indict him.
Dr Khan had already been convicted in absentia by a Dutch courtthough he was later acquitted on a technicalityafter it was discovered that he had systematically been stealing blueprints and specifications of the uranium enrichment process from Urenco, a Dutch-German-UK consortium, and the first commercial scale uranium enrichment plant using the gas centrifuge process, where he had worked for a while. Later, in March 2001, he was removed from KRL following American concerns about his nuclear activities.
However, he continued to retain his position as advisor to the prime minister of Pakistan. But what is more surprising is that Washington appears to have not only bought General Musharrafs line that Pakistans clandestine nuclear proliferation was the work of only a few rogue scientists acting on their own but has also declared that it is satisfied with the Generals assurances that such activities were conducted before he had assumed office. No doubt, Pakistans status as a frontline state in the US war against terrorism has made it wink at its nuclear activitiesand proliferation.
But it is certainly no secret to anyone following Pakistans nuclear activities, including US experts, that over the last two decades, Pakistani agents have been procuring nuclear-related technology and sensitive material from European, American and Canadian sources in violation of these countries export control regulations to pursue the dream first enunciated by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 to a small group of top scientists: That Pakistan achieve nuclear capability, not just for its own security, but also to attain leadership in the Islamic world. For a cash-strapped Pakistan, what better way of funding its ambitions than to give a religious spin to its nuclear goal. Hence the programme of producing an Islamic bomb was launched.
While Dr Khan provided the necessary data and technology stolen from Urenco, funding came from Libya, Iran and, of course, good friend, Saudi Arabia. It is a well-known fact that members of the Saudi royal family have access to Pakistans nuclear enrichment facilities.
Pakistans other friend, China, in return for access to the gas centrifuge technology, provided the critical hardware (missiles capable of delivering the weapons) as well as designs for the same. And when in the aftermath of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in the early 1990s, Beijing was forced to be more circumspect, the missile-for-nuclear weapons technology arrangement was continued with North Korea. In fact, while there is no doubt that Pakistans Ghauri missile is a knock-off of the North Korean Nodong missile, the deal with Pyongyang was believed to have been sealed in 1993 during a secret visit by the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
While it is now clear that Pakistans nuclear programme was funded by Tripoli, Riyadh and Tehran, and its delivery system was aided and abetted by Beijing and Pyongyang, reports are now surfacing that more Islamic countries, including Egypt, Syria and Algeria too have shown interest in acquiring nuclear technology from Pakistan. Iraq too is believed to have said that middlemen from KRL had offered it nuclear expertise in 1990. Even more alarming are reports that Dr Khans associates had visited Kandahar, apparently for quiet talks with Osama bin Laden on nuclear technology.
Given these facts, the claims of General Musharraf that the nuclear trade between Pakistan and other rogue states were conducted clandestinely and independently by a few individual scientists are subject to question. There is no doubt that every aspect of the Pakistani nuclear programme is under the armys control. Therefore, as analysts and kinsmen of the arrested Pakistani scientists have pointed out, no scientist, including Dr Khan, could have removed nuclear material and documents from the country without the knowledgeand consentof the army.
While India may now feel vindicated that it has been saying for decades that Pakistan is the worlds greatest proliferator, helping at least four other countries to become nuclear weapons powers in a short span of time, it is doubtful whether any punitive action will be taken against Islamabad.
However, given the jihadi seed that has taken deep root within the Pakistani army and leadership, there is a real risk that sensitive nuclear material and technology may fall into jihadi handsMusharrafs denials notwithstanding.