Understanding the Nature of the A.Q. Khan Network: An ‘Imports-Exports Enterprise’

Picture Source: Wall Street Journal

Not a ‘Wal-Mart’, but an ‘Imports-Exports Enterprise’: Understanding the Nature of the A.Q. Khan Network
by Bruno Tertrais
Strategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 5 (August 2007)

Much has been written about the A.Q. Khan network since the Libyan “coming out” of December 2003. However, most analysts have focused on the exports made by Pakistan without attempting to relate them to Pakistani imports. To understand the very nature of the network, it is necessary to go back to its “roots,” that is, the beginnings of the Pakistani nuclear program in the early 1970s, and then to the transformation of the network during the early 1980s. Only then does it appear clearly that the comparison to a “Wal-Mart” (the famous expression used by IAEA Director General Mohammed El-Baradei) is not an appropriate description. The Khan network was in fact a privatized subsidiary of a larger, State-based network originally dedicated to the Pakistani nuclear program. It would be much better characterized as an “imports-exports enterprise.”

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