Tag Archive for 'Nuclear proliferation'

Was A.Q. Khan selling secrets to India too?

David E. Hoffman at Foreign Policy:

One of the unsolved mysteries of the A. Q Khan nuclear proliferation network is whether there was another nation that benefited, beyond Iran, North Korea and Libya. Khan, the metallurgist who played a key role in Pakistan’s quest for the atomic bomb, acknowledged selling equipment and plans that could be used for nuclear weapons to these three countries, but, by some accounts, he and his associates also referred to a hidden “fourth customer.”

Now, Joshua Pollack, an expert on nonproliferation whose work has appeared in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the ArmsControlWonk.com blog, and the Nonproliferation Review, has written an article with a surprising suggestion: the fourth customer might have been Pakistan’s bitter rival, nuclear-armed India.

In a piece just published in Playboy, Pollack lays out some evidence that the Khan network’s wares–including the key features of centrifuges needed to enrich uranium to higher levels for a weapon–may have found their way to India. More:

The wrath of Khan

How A.Q. Khan made Pakistan a nuclear power — and showed that the spread of atomic weapons can’t be stopped. William Langewiesche in The Atlantic [via 3quarksdaily]:

aqkhan1Rawalpindi is a city of two million residents on the northern plains of the Punjab, in Pakistan. It is a teeming place, choked with smoke and overcrowded with people just barely getting by. A large number of them live hand to mouth on the equivalent of a few hundred dollars a year. Much of their drinking water comes from a lake in the peaceful countryside north of town. The lake is surrounded by tree-lined pastures and patches of sparse forest. The navy of Pakistan has a sailing club there, on a promontory with a cinder-block shack, a dock, and one small sloop in the water-a Laser 16 with dirty sails, which sees little use. Though fishermen and picnickers sometimes appear in the afternoons or evenings, the lakefront on both sides of the promontory is pristine and undeveloped. The emptiness is by design: though the land around the lake is privately owned, zoning laws strictly forbid construction there, in order to protect Rawalpindi’s citizens from the contamination that would otherwise result. This seems only right. If Pakistan can do nothing else for its people, it can at least prevent the rich from draining their sewage into the water of the poor.

But Pakistan is a country corrupted to its core, and some years ago a large weekend house was built in blatant disregard of the law, about a mile from the navy’s sailing club, clearly in sight on the lake’s far shore. When ordinary people build illegal houses in Pakistan, the government’s response is unambiguous and swift: backed by soldiers or the police, bulldozers come in and knock the structures down. But the builder of this house was none other than Dr. Abdul Quadeer Khan, the metallurgist who after a stint in Europe had returned to Pakistan in the mid-1970s with stolen designs, and over the years had provided the country-single-handedly, it was widely believed-with an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

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In a snub to U.S., Pakistan frees nuclear dealer

Abdul Qadeer Khan, who was accused of selling nuclear technology abroad, was freed from house arrest by a Pakistani court on Friday. From The New York Times:

Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan waves to journalists outside his home in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Friday after a court declared him free from house arrest. Photo: EPA

Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan waves to journalists outside his home in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Friday after a court declared him free from house arrest. Photo: EPA

A Pakistani court freed one of the most successful nuclear proliferators in history, Abdul Qadeer Khan, from house arrest on Friday, lifting the restrictions imposed on him since 2004 when he publicly confessed to running an illicit nuclear network.

Mr. Khan, 73, considered in the West as a rogue scientist and a pariah who sold technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran, is revered as a national hero in Pakistan for his role in transforming the country into a nuclear power.

The ruling to set him free seemed as much a political decision as a legal one, intended to shore up support for the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, which has been derided in the Pakistani press as being too close to the United States. The government has been under intense domestic pressure to free Mr. Khan, and that outweighed the backlash that Mr. Zardari knew the action would cause in Washington.

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From BBC: Mixed emotions over Khan release