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February 02, 2004
Abdul Qadeer Khan: Nuclear scientist for tyranny
There is no way to measure the betrayal of mankind represented by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s selling of nuclear secrets to Lybia, Iran and North Korea.

What made the Cold War so dangerous? It was nuclear weapons in the hands of dictatorships, first the Soviet Union and then China. If the Free World made a move to free an oppressed nation from the totalitarian “sphere,” it risked nuclear war. As much as the Free World wanted to help, it had no obligation to commit suicide.

The urge to free other nations wasn’t for empire or “hegemony” or even free trade. It was based on the premise that all humans have a right to be free, and the practical reality that, once freed, democracies rarely go to war with each other. Helping dictators only blocks progress toward peace.

The prinicipal reason no two democracies went to war with each other in the entire 20th century was that democracies, as imperfect as they are, are open and accountable enough to provide countless chances to avoid war with other democracies. If you can see what a neighboring nation’s plans are, in its speeches, debates and free press, you can see when that nation is upset about something you’re doing, and you can prevent a violent collision by talking, negotiating and adjusting.

That’s why the end of the Soviet Union and the beginning of democracy in Russia was so helpful. Here was a nuclear power, made especially dangerous by the unaccountability, unpredictability and secrecy of dictatorship. Today, Russia has more nuclear weapons than the United States, but because of its democracy – shaky as it is – Russia is an infinitely safer member of the world community than it was just 15 years ago.

Which brings us back to Abdul Qadeer Khan. What treachery it is to all who love peace and freedom that he would sell off nuclear secrets, and in particular that he would sell them to three of the most repressive dictatorships in the world.

Lybia, fortunately, appears to be surrendering its nuclear ambitions. Iran is pretending to do the same, but will need close watching. But North Korea’s tyrannical rogue, Kim Jong Il, either has used Khan’s technical assistance to build a few nuclear warheads, or he is just about to.

The revelations of Khan’s betrayal come just as defectors from North Korea are revealing the extent of torture and murder in Kim’s concentration camps, including Camp 22, where occasionally political prisoners – often with their whole families – are placed in a gas chamber in painfully deadly chemical experiments.

It’s bad enough that nuclear dictatorships can push other nations around. It’s important to remember that these dictators also are able to get away with the most ghastly of crimes against their own people because they know no outsider can challenge their nuclear shield.

Who knows when, but someday North Korea will be free. And when Kim’s camps are emptied, the mamed and mangled prisoners, if any survive, will have every right to blame Abdul Qadeer Khan for prolonging their suffering and delaying the day of their liberation.

Frank Warner

 

Nation & World 2/16/04
Selling the Bomb
Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan is the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear weapons technology

By Thomas Omestad
Pakistanis know him as a gentle man who reads poetry and feeds the wild monkeys in the forest by his house--but also as a patriot of the first order. Abdul Qadeer Khan is revered as the father of Pakistan's crash program to make atomic weapons, the first so-called Islamic bomb. But in recent days Khan's larger-than-life persona has been recast by extraordinary revelations that expose him as the master of a shadowy world of nuclear intrigue.

Khan, 67, who confessed last week to trading nuclear equipment and know-how to Iran, Libya, and North Korea, was a pioneer of sorts in a dangerous growth industry: marketing the means to make the bomb. U.S. and other officials count Khan's outing as a major success in the fight to stop the spread of nuclear technology to rogue states and perhaps terrorists. "The source of the goodies is dried up," says a senior State Department official.

But all is not well. A Pakistani probe launched under pressure from the Bush administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations watchdog, revealed an eye-popping global network of suppliers and middlemen--from agents in Germany to brokers in Dubai to a factory allegedly making gas-centrifuge parts in Malaysia.

The IAEA and U.S. intelligence funneled to Pakistan evidence of the proliferation schemes, though until recently President Pervez Musharraf roundly denied them. The IAEA, the CIA, and other spy agencies are now trying to pick their way through Khan's network, honed over a quarter century of buying parts for Pakistan's own drive for a nuclear arsenal. The European-trained metallurgist began his labors in the 1970s by allegedly stealing centrifuge technology from a Dutch firm.

Some suspects in the procurement network have been detained for questioning. "Khan is seemingly the guiding hand, but after you cut off the head of the serpent, there are still a lot of little serpents left around," says a western diplomat who follows the IAEA's investigations. Another knowledgeable diplomat tells U.S. News that the IAEA and spy agencies are "deeply concerned" over whether any terrorist cells sought to buy nuclear designs or equipment through the network and are probing the matter.

The Bush administration is pleased that Khan has been "neutralized," as one senior official puts it. It has asked Musharraf to permit American experts to question Khan and his associates, which Pakistan is resisting. Yet U.S. officials last week were protective of Musharraf, a key ally in the war on terror, and they said they accept his assurances that military leaders did not approve of or wink at the nuclear deals.

Secret deals. But nuclear analysts and many Pakistanis suspect a coverup. Indeed, it's unlikely that Khan instigated such wide-ranging nuclear transfers from the late 1980s to late last year without the military's involvement. Khan maintained several houses, foreign bank accounts, and a flamboyant lifestyle--all on a government salary of $2,000 a month. Western diplomats say Iran received both parts and designs for the centrifuges needed to enrich uranium into bomb-grade material. Libya got all that--and a blueprint for a nuclear warhead. And North Korea took centrifuge know-how in exchange for ballistic missile technology vital to developing Pakistan's military deterrent against India.

Khan reportedly told a friend--before his confession--that three Army chiefs, including Musharraf, knew about the North Korea trade. And according to Robert Oakley, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, one of Musharraf's predecessors as Army chief of staff told him in 1991 that Pakistan would provide nuclear assistance to Iran in return for oil and political support. "Khan's been allowed to run loose," Oakley says. "They [the Army] knew something was going on, but I suspect they decided not to ask too many detailed questions."

Many Pakistanis find Khan's humiliation appalling. They believe he is being scapegoated to appease the Americans and protect the military--an accusation Musharraf denies. In a televised apology, a contrite Khan took full responsibility and absolved the government of complicity. The next day, Musharraf pardoned him. "Dr. Qadeer is our hero. He is being penalized just because he has given us the nuclear bomb to face India," says Wahid Hussein, the owner of an auto-parts store in Karachi. If Musharraf cannot convince Pakistanis otherwise, he may yet face their wrath.

With Aamir Latif

Dr Khan's confession statement concocted: N. Korea


SEOUL: Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan's confession that he sold nuclear weapons technology to North Korea was a lie cooked up by the United States to justify an invasion, Pyongyang said on Tuesday.

Dr A.Q. Khan's confession, made last Wednesday, came three weeks before North Korea is scheduled to join the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea for a second round of talks in Beijing, on Feb 25, to try to end the North's nuclear weapons programmeme.

In Pyongyang's first reaction, a foreign ministry spokesman said the United States had fabricated Dr Khan's story to derail the nuclear talks and lay the groundwork for an Iraq-style invasion.

"The United States is now hyping the story about the transfer of nuclear technology to the DPRK (North Korea) by a Pakistani scientist in a bid to make the DPRK's enriched uranium programmeme sound plausible," said the spokesman in a statement published by Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency.

"This is nothing but a mean and groundless propaganda," the spokesman said, adding Dr Abdul Qadeer's disclosures were such a "sheer lie that the DPRK does not bat an eyelid even a bit".

North Korea has long denied it has been pursuing an atomic weapons programmeme using highly enriched uranium (HEU), as the United States has alleged. US officials said the North Koreans had admitted in Oct 2002 they had such a programmeme when confronted with evidence.

The confrontation led to North Korea withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and taking plutonium rods out of storage, reactivating a plutonium-based programmeme that was frozen under a pact with the United States in 1994.

"This is aimed to scour the interior of the DPRK on the basis of a legitimate mandate and attack it just as what it did in Iraq in the end and invent a pretext to escape isolation and scuttle the projected six-way talks," KCNA said of Dr Khan's disclosures.

Khan Claimed Nuke Equipment Was Old.
L.A. Times, registration required. Edited for new stuff:
An official involved in the investigation of Abdul Qadeer Khan said Monday that the Pakistani nuclear scientist has claimed that the equipment he sold to Iran and North Korea to enrich uranium was outdated.
"Yeah. It was outta date. It wouldn't enrich uranium no more, 'less you could find some o' that old uranium."
Khan’s claim appeared to be an attempt to play down the value of the technology he spread. That assertion, together with the announcement that Khan could still face punishment, may represent an effort by Pakistan to mollify critics in the U.S. and elsewhere who are angry about Khan’s activities and the pardon.
I don't think that particular line's gonna work.
However, international investigators said that even sharing outdated designs would substantially promote the spread of nuclear weapons. Inspectors with the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, for instance, have found that Iran made significant improvements on Pakistani-designed equipment.
Wonder who else "assisted" them?
According to Pakistani officials involved in the investigation, Khan said in his signed confession that he supplied old and discarded centrifuges and other uranium-enrichment equipment to North Korea and Iran.
By way of Malaysia, where they were "refurbished".
One official, who spoke on condition that he not be named, identified the equipment as P-I and P-II centrifuges, machines used to enrich uranium to fuel nuclear reactors and warheads. The P-I is thought to have been made using blueprints Khan is suspected of stealing while he was working at a uranium-enrichment plant in the Netherlands in the 1970s. The official said Khan had transferred P-I and P-II machines to North Korea along with drawings, sketches, technical data and depleted uranium hexafluoride gas — the feedstock for gas centrifuges and a crucial, difficult-to-obtain element.
Was the gas outdated as well?
Khan said he supplied equipment such as old P-I machines with drawings to Iran under pressure from the late Gen. Imtiaz when the general was defense advisor to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto from December 1988 to August 1990.
Since Imtiaz is dead, he can’t deny the charge.
Khan also said he met Iranian scientists in the Pakistani city of Karachi at the request of another close Bhutto aide, identified as Dr. Niazi. He had meetings with Libyans in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1990, the officials said.
And now we have the "Blame Bhutto" meme.
Bhutto, who lives in exile in London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, said in an e-mail interview last week that she never had direct knowledge that Pakistanis were involved in nuclear proliferation while she was in power. Now she believes the military is trying to hide its complicity. One official said the nuclear leaks started in the late 1980s. There was a lack of strict command and control over Pakistan’s nuclear program for 20 years, the official said, until after Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup.
You can see where Musharraf is going with this, it all started under somebody elses watch.
The contention that Pakistan’s military and intelligence services were unaware of Khan’s activities contradicts assurances that Musharraf and senior Pakistani military leaders gave to U.S. officials. "Musharraf and people before him constantly assured us that this was something that the military had a firm grip on," a former U.S. intelligence official said Monday in a phone interview from Washington.
Oh, I’m sure they did know exactly what was going on.
Although relatives of the detained scientists have insisted that military intelligence officers strictly monitored employees of the laboratory and their families, the official interviewed Monday said it was "a one-man show" under an officer he identified only as Brig. Tajwar. The military’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency — which is widely believed to be present in virtually every corner of Pakistani society — was shut out of Khan’s nuclear facility.
Sure they were.
Khan’s direct shipments of bomb-making equipment went through a black market network with the assistance of two Sri Lankans, identified as Tahir and Farooq.
I thought Farooq was Khan's assistant?
Dubai became the shipment hub and the place where clandestine meetings took place and deals were struck, the official said.
The hotels are better.
North Korea — which has denied having a uranium-enrichment program — placed orders for P-I centrifuge components from 1997 to 1999, and Khan and his associates provided direct technical assistance to that country from 1998 to 2000, said an official involved in the probe.
Paid for by helping with Pakistans missile program.
Izaz Jaffery, the owner of an Islamabad nightclub called Hot Shot, has been arrested on suspicion of being an emissary between Khan and Iran, the source said.

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